If you’ve never tried food journaling, consider doing it. Clients in Kansas City find it helps them lose weight. It might seem too good to be true, but there are logical reasons that it helps. Tracking your food intake can make a huge difference and several studies show that it’s true. A new study shows that the difference can be double the amount of weight. The six month study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, followed dieters who went to weekly support groups, had food diaries and who were supported in efforts to be active and eat healthy. Those who only recorded their food intake an average of one day or less lost half the weight of those who tracked food intake faithfully at least six days a week.
Food diaries made people more mindful of their food intake.
If you’re focused on writing down everything you eat, you’re more aware when something goes into your mouth. Anyone who cooks knows how many times sampling or snacking on the food before the meal occurs or found themselves eating that small bit of leftovers or licking the serving spoon when cleaning up. Those are just two examples of times people eat that are often not considered. There’s far more times than you realize, unless you’re focused on recording each one.
Food diaries hold you accountable.
Seriously, it’s like having a personal trainer watch you eat. You’ll tend to eat healthier and less if you know you’re being monitored and that’s exactly what a food diary does, monitor your food intake. Sometimes, it’s too much effort to get out your list and write it down or record the food in your notes on your cell phone. It’s simply easier not to eat.
Learn to judge portion size if you’re going to keep a food diary.
Just noting you ate mashed potatoes means nothing. It could be as much as a mixing bowl full or as little as a spoonful. That’s where portion size comes into the picture. Knowing how much is one portion of that food is important. For instance, a serving of meat, fish or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards. A serving size of cheese is either one index finger or the size of four dice. Learning to identify serving size is mandatory for keeping a food diary.
- If you keep a diary, you need to first decide on the format and then on how often you’ll update. Don’t leave these to chance, but plan ahead. Only you know the way that will work best for your lifestyle and proclivities.
- Decide what your reason for choosing to track your food intake. If it’s to discover hidden food triggers, you’ll need to add information about the set of circumstances. Is it for weight loss? Include calories or carbs.
- Don’t forget the extras. If you’ve just consumed a jumbo burger with all the fixings, you’ve eaten more than just a hamburger patty, and even more than a patty and a bun. You’ve had mayo, cheese and whatever else that was on the burger. Include those in the diary.
- Review what you tracked. Make an appointment with yourself for a five minute meeting at the end of your day, just before you go to sleep, to review what you ate that day.