28 December 2008

Keep a Food Diary.

Ever think about keeping a food diary to see what you are eating? Just like with budgeting or trying to see how many miles to the gallon, you must have information to make informed decisions.

You may already have one on your computer. In Microsoft Office's Project Gallery under Planners you'll find Meals-Diets. There is very likely a Food Diary there you can print off and use to record your daily consumption.

You can download any one of several online versions. A Mac shareware program, Diet Sleuth, might serve some, but I'd rather have a bit of paper in my pocket. Also try Nutrition and Exercise Manager 4.1 a Food and exercise diary for Mac users coupled with a database.
Cleveland Clinic offers some tips and a form.

A U.S. News & World Report article says . . .

There's a reason so many doctors and nutritionists recommend keeping a food diary when you're trying to lose weight: It actually appears to work. The case for food diaries (or food records or journals) got a little stronger today, when weight-loss researchers reported that a large, multicenter study suggests that tracking what goes in your mouth can double the amount of weight lost. The findings were part of a weight-loss maintenance trial whose initial results were reported in March. After analyzing the data on weight loss to see which factors made a difference, researchers concluded that the more days a person kept a careful record, the more weight he or she lost. . . .

It's eye opening. In fact, some people will be so shocked at how many calories are in their thrice-daily Coke that the "aha" moment will make going on an actual diet unnecessary. Being forced to be aware of what you're eating can often be enough to help people drop weight, says Wadden.

It helps you track your progress. Use the diary as a way to make adjustments throughout the day and to gauge how much exercise you need to hit a certain calorie count, advises Holly Wyatt, a physician and researcher at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "If I eat three cups of fries, I know that I ate a lot and can cut back at the next meal," says Francis Tacotaco, a 38-year-old skilled nursing assistant from Richmond, Calif., who used a food diary as part of a weight-loss program at Kaiser. He's lost 21 pounds so far and wants to drop more.

Other suggestions are to team up with a friend and swap food diaries once a week to keep each other in line. And many people find it's enough to be accountable to themselves. "You won't put that second cookie in your mouth because you don't want to see it in your food record."

It's a habit that will serve you well for a lifetime and with little extra equipment to buy. Got a pen and notepad handy? Start there.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Yep, I've done it. And I'm not surprised they think it helps with weight loss. Somehow the mere fact that whenever I go to put something in your mouth, I'm also going to have to write it down is enough to make me think twice. Let alone seeing how much it is when you do write it down! Unfortunately I also get jittery and miserable while doing it, plus resentful about the whole idea - so I've never done it for more than a couple of weeks. Just another reason why I'm not slim!