After an extended period of being overweight, you are ready to take the proverbial bull by the horns and lose some pounds. Whether you have 10 or 100 pounds or more to lose, keeping a food diary can be a very effective and eye-opening tool to help you on your weight loss journey. While you can certainly purchase a spiral notebook and some pens and jot down what you eat for your meals and snacks, you can also up the ante a bit and use your smartphone to help create an even better model. For example, check out the following tips:

Get a Smartphone with a Good Camera

While at first blush you might wonder how a camera will be part of a food diary, there are actually a variety of ways you can use it. You can take weekly selfies of yourself to show your progress and help keep you encouraged and on track. Or you can also take photos of some of your more delicious and healthful meals that you prepare. You can also get shots of the numbers on the scale or the readings on the blood pressure cuff on certain days — all of these photos and information can then be easily shared with your doctor. In order to get the best possible photos that you can for your food diary, you may want to upgrade your smartphone to a newer model. For example, the LG G5 has a dual camera (16 MP/8MP) that features a normal and ultra wide-angle lens. In lieu of writing everything down on paper, you can also use the Quick Memo feature on the LG G5 phone to keep tabs on everything you’re eating, as well as store any accompanying pictures and text.

a-trio-of-tips-for-creating-a-digital-food-diary

Think Beyond the Plate

While you will definitely want to jot down everything you eat and drink in your digital food diary, you can also include other bits of helpful data, such as your mood when you were eating, how hungry you were at the time, if you had a headache or illness and if you ate alone or with family and/or friends. As Heart.org notes, writing down what you eat will help you clearly identify your good habits as well as what your dietary challenges may be. For example, you might notice that you have a tendency to indulge in Oreos late at night when your hunger rating is only at a two out of 10; with this knowledge you might strive to find other things to do at that time rather than eating. You can also put that smartphone camera to use again by snapping shots of where you ate for a particular meal, a friend who ate with you who helped to keep you on track and even snap a selfie that shows your mood.

Add an Online Calorie Database

To help make your digital food diary as helpful as possible, it’s important to know how many calories are in your meals and snacks. Download a handy app version of a program like MyFoodDiary and you’ll have info on over 85,000 foods right at your fingertips. The database also keeps tabs on some of the essential nutrients that you should be getting every day, so it can let you know if you are getting enough calcium or should up your dairy and green leafy veggie intake, as well as iron, vitamin C and more.