Keeping food diaries can help you lose weight.
A handwritten journal, an app for your smart phone or using your computer can help keep you accountable. Many of us underestimate how much we eat throughout the day. Grabbing a cookie or soda can add a couple of hundred calories, which can eventually lead to weight gain.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied for a year overweight or obese post-menopausal women on a weight loss program. They found that the participants lost an average of 11 percent of their starting weight by keeping a food journal.
There is something about the physical act of recording what you have ate or how much you exercise that can help you see the small steps it takes to develop healthy habits.
- You get an accurate idea of how many calories you are eating each day.
- It will help you cut down on snacking between meals.
- The physical act of recording everything may help you decide whether to choose a high-calorie item or choose a healthier alternative.
However, simply recording what you eat is not enough; you must reflect on what you have entered frequently to see if there are any patterns. For example, you may find that once a week you eat a milkshake or ice cream cone after your child’s ball game.
Just writing your food down or tracking it on your phone is not enough. Choosing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low fat dairy is the foundation for maintaining a healthy weight.
Some good sources to get you started with a food journal include:
Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog.