When You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Lori Boxer
Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center


You’ve heard over and over again how a food diary is the most powerful proven aid for dieters, that those who keep a food diary lose more weight. And that’s true. But, food diaries are also a very important tool for those who have lost weight and need to keep it off, as well as for those who are slim, who never had a weight problem and who want to stay that way!


While there are those who recommend you record what you eat throughout the day (as in eat, record; eat, record), I don’t.  In my offices, based on how much weight a client needs to lose, or based on the weight a successful client is trying to maintain, they have a certain amount of food that they must eat every day, and it is not possible for them (or you) to have a plan only in their heads, record each item of food they eat as they go along, and then hope it all works out at the end of the day. No, sorry . . . that doesn’t work. When clients do that, one of two things always happen: They either eat too much or they eat too little, and both scenarios is the formula for weight gain. And, on those occasions when a client waited until the end of the day to record everything they ate during the day, they only recorded what they remembered they ate; I’m interested in knowing what they didn’t remember they ate!


With my clients, I use the word plan. I teach clients to plan in advance at least one day at a time, but 2 or 3 is better, especially during the work week. When you do that, you are telling yourself what your intentions are, based on your schedule, for an entire day at a time. You can see what you need to eat and at what time; you can prepare it in advance, pack it and bring it with you; and follow through for a successful eating day.


Here are 8 other benefits of planning your daily menus in advance:


  1. Menu planning saves a ton of time in the supermarket. This is because when you know what you want your meals and snacks to be, those food items become your grocery list. So, instead of walking up and down each aisle of the supermarket trying to figure out what you might be in the mood to eat over the next few days—or rather than buying a whole lot of stuff with no rhyme or reason and then over the course of the next few days trying to get those items into your plans—you know exactly where in the supermarket you need to be in order to get those items into your shopping cart. You head directly for those items, and before you know it, you’re on the check-out line.
  2. Menu planning allows for advanced food prep of your meals and snack items. You can chop your veggies, make some salads, and season and store (or cook and refrigerate) some fish, poultry and meat items.
  3. Menu planning prevents “calorie amnesia”—the forgetfulness that leads to weight gain (or to rebound weight gain after successful weight loss). As I said above, it’s not what you can easily recall that will sabotage your efforts; it’s what you DON’T recall that WILL.
  4. Menu planning helps you develop greater self-discipline. You WILL think twice about eating anything other than what you had planned, especially junk food—and especially if someone checks your diary regularly. It keeps you honest!
  5. A diary document can help you to identify moods, situations and events that lead to excessive eating of unwanted calories. You can then plan to overcome or avoid them.  When/if you do go ‘off’ or eat something you shouldn’t have, be honest with yourself and write it on that day’s journal.
  6. Having a diary also serves as the document on which you can record your weight a couple times a week. In my offices, we record losses and gains on clients’ diaries so they can see the results they get from the actions they take! You can do the same. Additionally, retaining your diaries with weight losses and gains also gives you an opportunity to repeat good days and avoid the bad ones.
  7. Planned daily menus give you a look-back at your habits: what you’re eating too much of, and what you may not be eating at all. It gives you an opportunity to know when to shake things up.
  8. Planned daily menus serves as a check system for your weight loss counselor and, of course, your physician, to assess your progress and to make recommendations, changes, etc.



I offer my clients two diaries from which to choose: A paper version or a custom electronic version, the latter which automatically totals the number of servings in each of the food groups as they plug them in. You do not have to be a client to print out the paper diary or to use the electronic diary, so feel free to do so.)


Folks, I can’t stress enough how important daily menu planning is. As busy as I am, I work as hard to stay slim as my clients do to get slim. I know what it’s like to be overweight, and I have no intentions of ever going back that way again. So, for me, it is worth the time a couple times a week to sit down and plan out my days: If I’m working in my NJ office, I know I have to plan one way.  If I’m traveling to my Long Island office and have to account for the long drives, and possibly a dinner-sandwich in the car, I plan another way. I not only plan my meals and snacks, but I also plug in the times that I know I will have them, never allowing more than 3 hours to go by without eating something. This advance planning becomes my household’s grocery list, and I go about doing all the prep work (chopping veggies, and making pre-measured 1-cup servings of veggie snacks, for example).  Then, I pack everything up the night before so that in the morning, after breakfast, I only have to grab-and-go.


You can lose weight and keep it off only if you have the right tools (and support), and menu planning is not only one of the right tools but it’s also the best predictor of weight loss. The more food diaries you keep, the more weight you will lose.


Lastly, let me say this: The most perfectly written diaries don’t mean a thing if they don’t reflect the facts of the scale. When a client hands me a diary that was well written and well planned (and sometimes written in ink because they were sure it would be so perfect the first time they wouldn’t need to make changes or updates!), and then the scale shows they’ve gained 3 lbs, well, clearly, what the diary shows they planned to eat isn’t exactly what they ate. Therefore, if there is ANY additional eating to what your plans call for, here’s what I tell my clients:


If you bite it, write it.
If you nibble it, scribble it.
If you snack it, track it.
Grab your pencil before your utensil!



Learn about who we are and what we do at the Services and Programs pages, with particular emphasis on The Client, The Fees and The FAQs. Be educated, motivated, informed and inspired on all weight loss, diet, lifestyle, and health issues by following me at Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.