How to Start the Weight Loss Journey (Series) Part III: Completing a Food Overhaul

How to Start Your Weight Loss Journey {Blog Series} Part III Completing a Food Overhaul

Now that you have assessed and accepted your current weight (part I) and are committed to making a healthy lifestyle change (part II) you can now move forward onto the next step of the weight loss journey. This next step I like to call a “food overhaul”.

What is a food overhaul?

A food overhaul is taking a deep down real look at the foods (including drinks) you are currently consuming on a daily basis. This step, from my own experience, is critical to successfully changing habits and moving towards a healthier lifestyle. Most people when starting a weight loss plan  jump right into it without ever evaluating their current habits which means they never figure out what they were doing wrong in the first place. Then when their attempt at the latest fad diet doesn’t work (and we know it won’t) they turn back to their old habits and end up right where they started. This cycle often leads people to what I like to call the 4 D’s of dieting (disappointment, discouraged, desperate, and depressed).

Do I sound like I am talking from experience? That is because I am. I have been there many times. The good news is that the moment I began tracking what I was eating my mindset completely change. You see before then I truly had no idea why I gained weight and why I couldn’t lose weight. It was very frustrating for me because I did not feel that I was an “unhealthy” eater. I did not eat the stereotypical unhealthy foods such as soda, sugar drinks, fast food, and other junk foods. Of course I knew I was not perfect but I did not think I was that bad either.


Well I was wrong. There was a reason I had gain 60 pounds in 10 years and as soon as I began my food overhaul those reasons became crystal clear.

The importance of a food overhaul before starting any healthy lifestyle changes.

As I stated earlier doing a food overhaul is a critical step in your weight loss journey. It will help you pinpoint exactly where the problem areas are in your diet and also help you become aware of the eating and lifestyle habits you have formed around food. That way when you start putting together your own plan you know exactly what you need to change not what some “diet” is telling you to change.

When I did my food overhaul I was shocked to find where the extra calories where sneaking in. Remember my post on cutting 500 calories just in coffee drinks? Then I was pleasantly surprised to realize that with only a few painless tweaks I was able to start making the changes to begin my weight loss. It became clear that I spent many years jumping from one strict unrealistic diet plan to the next when really I just needed to understand my own habits that were road blocking my success.

I think it is important to mention that I don’t want you to focus solely on what you have been doing wrong because I am sure that there are many things you are doing correctly. The goal here is to see what is going on with both sides of the equation and then adjust and enhance accordingly.

Change of any kind is never easy so I don’t want to give the impression that I did not struggle with losing weight. I did and still do. What I am saying is that we don’t need to make such abrupt intrusive changes in our diet to have results. However, until we know what we need to change (or keep the same) moving forward with any changes will be flawed.

The main conclusion that became ultra-clear at the end of my food overhaul is that I have been my worst enemy. I was the one standing in between my goals of losing weight and achieving a healthier lifestlye.

How to complete a food overhaul?

I hope I have convinced you to complete a food overhaul before you embark on any type of weight loss strategy. Seriously, without doing this step I could honestly say that I probably would not be where I am today.

If you are ready then here are my recommendations for completing a food overhaul.

  • Using a food journal, keep track of your eating for 2 days without changing anything. Eat as you normally would. I utilized (and still do) the online food and exercise journal My Fitness Pal. This is a free site and they also have a mobile app so you keep track on the go. I guarantee, with using this tool, that by mid-morning you will begin to get an idea of where you have been struggling with food. Of course, if you wish to use old fashion pen and paper you can though online is much more efficient and easier to calculate.
  • Before bedtime review the entire day’s journal. Take note of these four things:
  1.  Where did your calories come from? For example, did most of your calories come from coffee drinks, salad dressing, candy, take-out lunch, etc.
  2. The nutritional density of the foods you were eating. For example, eating a 400 calorie candy bar is going to have less nutritional value than a 400 Greek yogurt parfait with granola. They may have the same calories but the Greek yogurt will provide more nutrition to keep your body satisfied longer.
  3. The time of day along with what was going on when you were eating. Did you find yourself eating more when you were with friends? Did you pick while preparing dinner? Maybe you found yourself grabbing ice cream after the kids went to bed. Knowing when and why we eat is just as important as what we are eating. I may argue even more important.
  4. What did you do well? For example, maybe you already pack yourself healthy lunches instead of going out to eat. Or you recently formed the habit of not eating late at night. Like I said note positive habits because you want to keep and build off what is already working for you.

Once you have completed this food overhaul you will have a much better understanding of your own habits and how you will proceed in making changes to move you towards a healthier lifestyle. I will cover in the rest of this series how to begin doing just that. The next part will focus on calorie awareness.

What are your thoughts on completing a food overhaul? Have you done one before? If so, what did you learn about yourself?


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  1. You are so right! Thank you for sharing this… I am on day three of my food overhall. I want to lose 50 pounds! I never thought I over ate… but now I am tracking every calorie I put in my mouth on the Lose It APP – Half a piece of gum has 5 calories!? That hardly seems fair… we don’t swallow it!!!

  2. Great post Tammy. I’ve been trying to get a grip on this. I think I eat too much, but relatively healthy food. I’ve already given up the soda, fast food, coffee drinks, candy, chips, sliced bread, and a lot of the typical suggestions. I’m interested in your comment: “Knowing when and why we eat is just as important as what we are eating. I may argue even more important.” Can you elaborate on the “when” part? I think this is my problem. I know I feel hungry all afternoon, and I often eat too much, but I just can’t seem to figure how not to be starving at 4. A snack just doesn’t seem to cut it. Thanks! I’m enjoying your blog!

  3. It’s helpful for me to view food as fuel or nutrition. I need to stay focused on nutrient dense foods–and NOT cater to my taste buds without discernment. It’s so easy for me to let my taste buds be my guide (French fries, candy, cookies, etc)–but I need to use my brain as a guide–not strictly my taste buds.

  4. I really enjoy the info from OYS…I have been getting daily emails for a few weeks now. While reading about getting started, I clicked the link to go to “combining you meal plan with your shopping list” but the link takes me to “completing a food overhaul”…so there are two links to the information re: food overhaul, but nothing that I can find links to “combining meal plan to you shopping list.” Tammy can you address this and notify once you have made the correction


  1. […] scan will give you insight into what your current food situation looks like. It is kind of like the food overhaul concept I talked about with my weight loss journey a few months […]

  2. […] in place to hold yourself accountable. The two ways that I stay accountable is by keeping my daily online food journal and getting on the scale once a week. I know some people hate scales and if you are one of them […]

  3. […] with frozen pizzas and chicken fingers. My pantry did not look any better. The day I completed a food overhaul I was shocked by where my calories were coming from. 500 alone came from my beloved coffee […]

  4. […] feeling shocked when I realized that I was in control. This actually happened after I completed my food overhaul and discovered I was eating 3000 or more calories a day in what I thought to be “healthy […]

  5. […] How to Start the Weight Loss Journey (Series) Part III … – You are here: Home / Tips, Tricks, and How to’s / How to Start the Weight Loss Journey (Series) Part III: Completing a Food Overhaul… […]

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