For a year straight, I kept a daily food journal. Everyday, I logged exactly what I ate. Initially this helped me out quite a bit, I lost weight and leaned up pretty quickly just by writing things down. That made me very conscious of what I was eating and also helped me understand portion control. Those were great lessons, however that was not the most important areas that I picked up. I learned some interesting hacks for watching what you eat. Here are those hacks, summarized. Btw, a great blogger that seems to have picked up on these same lessons is Randy Moore. He is probably more eloquent than I, so if these concepts appeal to you then you should look him up.
First Area – Weekly View and not a Daily View. When you are looking at your calorie intake, it is better to not think of this as a daily thing. Better is to analyze weekly. For example if based on your exercise and body physique you decided that you could eat 2000 calories a day, it is better to evaluate yourself based on 14000 calories per week instead. This gives you the kind of flexibility you need in your life. You can eat those homemade meals, you can go out to dinner. You should eat more before vigorous exercise. Just each less during sedentary times. This was you can plan for a week of calories. Makes the whole process far more enjoyable! Give it a shot. Plan a week of calories instead of a day, you will like how that works better.
Second Area – Friendly Pig, Lonely Scarecrow. Do not eat like a pig when alone. Save that when you are out with friends and family. When you are alone eat like a scarecrow. Just a theme to repeat to yourself when you are eating a bunch of bad stuff at your desk when no one is around. Flip the script. Do not eat like a little mouse around friends to look like you are being good. Everyone can tell what you have been eating – it is not a secret. So instead you can mystify them. They can think this instead, how is it that he/she can eat like this and maintain that figure? Ha! What they do not know is that for the last 3 days when you were at home you ate like a scarecrow so that you could pig out in front of them!
Third Area – Run before Breakfast. I used to try to make sure I had enough calories before my runs. Not any more. Get used to burning everything left in your system by not having anything in your system when you start out. This will not work for your high end performance exercises, but works great for the everyday runs. Then when you do eat good for a long run, you have a ton of energy!
Those are the three easy ones. I would add drink lots of water, and eat only when you are actually hungry. However, those are completely separate topics.