This post, written by Tracy Morris, was originally published by Fitbit.

If weight loss is one of your health goals, it may be wise to take a closer look at what you’re eating by using the food logging feature in the Fitbit app. Experts agree, the simple act of recording meals and snacks can not only help you lose more weight, but keep it off for longer, too. Yes, all that logging can feel tedious at times, but it works! By spending a few days spotting where those extra calories are sneaking in, you’ll gain invaluable insights.

Here are a few tips to make food logging a little easier, and get the most out of your data.

Tip #1 Commit to 7 Days. To get an accurate assessment of your eating habits, you need at least a few days a week—including one weekend day—but an entire week is even better. You’ll get a sense of how many calories you’re typically eating, and can then work out how many calories you should be eating to help you reach your goal weight. If you want to establish new habits, keep logging. And if you want to lose 5 pounds (or more!), stick with it for at least a month.

Tip #2 Learn the shortcuts. The fastest way to log is to simply use the plus button at the bottom of your dashboard and select “log food” or “scan barcode.” (iOS users on newer devices with force touch can do a hard press on the Fitbit app icon and then click on log food.) By tapping the barcode symbol you can then use the camera on your smartphone to capture the barcode, and voilà! That exact item should pop up. All you need to do is select your serving size. (Note: This doesn’t mean you need to survive on packaged foods! Lots of fresh produce comes with barcodes, too!) You can also make use of “most popular” and “common” foods when searching for a food item, it’ll save you time trawling through a long list of brands.

Tip #3 Input your favorite foods once. The first few days are the most tiresome, but rest assured, it gets easier the more you do it. When you go to log a food, view the “frequent” and “recent” food lists, where the foods you eat regularly will automatically appear at the top for quick and easy logging. “Custom” foods require a bit more work to input, but once you have, they are great for the foods you eat often, but can’t easily find in the database.

Tip #4 Log as you eat. It’s easy to forget the details of a meal when relying on memory. If you absolutely don’t have time to log it immediately, take a photo. You could also use silent alarms and set personal reminders to nudge you to log your food at regular meal times, until logging becomes a habit.

Tip #5 But also, plan ahead! Use food logging to meal plan. If you know what you’re going to eat for breakfast all week, log it beforehand. It’ll make the process faster, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan if it’s already recorded.

Tip #6 Pay attention to portion sizes. If you’re totally new to calorie counting, pull out your measuring cups and spoons, and invest in a kitchen scale. You only need to measure a few times before you’ll get the gist of how much you should be eating. Plus, check out Fitbit’s visual guide to portion sizes! When you have a rough idea of what 3 ounces of steak looks like (a deck of cards), or a cup of pasta (a tennis ball), entering your servings will be quicker, easier, and more accurate.

Tip #7 Be honest. Log every morsel you eat and drink—yes, even the milk in your coffee, the cheese on your taco, and your son’s half eaten cupcake. The more detail you provide, the more accurate the data will be. There is no judgement, guilt, or shame—only the satisfaction of knowing you’re that much closer to achieving your weight goal!

Tip #8 Look for patterns. Take note of other triggers and behaviors linked to your eating. Do you eat something every time you walk into the kitchen? Is 3 p.m. your candy-witching hour? Does a deadline cause you to reach for donuts? By spotting patterns around when, where, and why you eat certain foods, you can develop strategies to prevent them from recurring, and start working towards a healthier you.

Embrace the process and approach food logging with a positive attitude—if you enjoy the journey of self discovery, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

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  • Marty

    It works. On December 27, 2015 I weighed 194 lbs. Now I weigh 172 lbs. It works

    • Jane E. McGinley

      Good job Marty!

    • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

      Nice work, Marty! Way to make it happen.

  • Jennifer White Baillie

    I have been logging since September 2016 and went from 158 to 127 by Feb 2016

    • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

      Wow, congrats Jennifer! Glad to hear this approach has worked for you.

  • theseaking

    Not bad, but there is lot of foods missing with the scan barcode function in Canada. Plus, the help out option is not unavailable for us. It is a shame that $130+ CAD devices can’t get this right.

    • Bianca Prentice

      Same in Australia. I pay full price for fit bit items but have to manually enter every bit of packaged food here in Aus.

      • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

        Hi Bianca, you can reach out to Fitbit support if you have anything you’d like to troubleshoot directly around food logging: https://contact.fitbit.com. Thanks for being a Fitstar!

    • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

      Thanks for letting us know. If you have anything you’d like to troubleshoot with the Fitbit support team, please reach out here: https://contact.fitbit.com.

  • Honza Bouda

    Hello! Thank you for great article! I am from Czech Republic, using my Fit Bit ChargeHR very hard… But American food or probably products in shops are quite different or unknown for me. I use https://www.kaloricketabulky.cz/ – app is good, database of foods are great! Contains also lot of central Europe foods and products. Take a look…

    I just wonder If Fit Bit should integrate some connection from FitBit app to kaloricketabulky.cz database? Because food logging is only one app fragment which is me and my friends here do not using.
    Thank you in advance, Jan.

    • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

      Hello Honza Bouda, thanks for reaching out and you are welcome! We’re glad you found the article helpful. In order to help you troubleshoot this request, please submit a request to the Fitbit support team directly: https://contact.fitbit.com. Best of luck!

  • spatin

    Thank you for your article. I have been trying to get rid of that darn last 10 lbs. to get to my goal, but I keep hovering around 12 lbs. over the goal weight. Lose some, gain some. But I am thankful for Fitbit and the support from people like you to help me stay on track. I’ll get there. I already lost 35 lbs. and have kept it off for over a year. Just can’t seem to shed that last 10+. But I’ll get there. :-)

    • http://fitstar.com/ Fitstar

      Congrats! It sounds to us like you have already hit a great goal by losing weight and keeping it off a year. Glad our article helped, we will continue to cheer you on!