Losing weight is difficult, as is maintaining that weight loss, but there is a simple low-tech tool that you can use every day to help you meet your weight loss goals – a food diary. Using a food diary or food journal to record your daily food intake and to help identify your eating patterns will help you focus your efforts. Use it to record your achievements, your setbacks and your thoughts and feelings as you lose weight.
In a 2008 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, of nearly 1,700 participants, those who kept a food diary lost twice the weight of those who did not. The largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trial to date supports the theory that keeping a food diary can double your weight loss. Your food diary puts you in control of your weight loss as you can turn to any page and see exactly what you ate, how much you ate, and how many calories you consumed on any given day, date or any meal.
We are most often unaware of what we eat, how often, or how much we eat. Your food diary allows you to record this information will provide valuable insight and data. But for your food diary to be beneficial, you must complete the entries regularly and honestly – write down every item you eat and drink. Don’t use your food diary solely to document your failings, use it as a tool that provides you with an opportunity to discover ways to improve your eating habits.
When do you eat most of your calories or the unhealthiest foods? Are there events or times of the day when you snack binge eating? A review of your food diary will help you identify possibly dangerous eating patterns and causes of your overeating. Your food diary helps you take a critical look at yourself and your eating habits and patterns.
Why did you eat that? Were you hungry, or angry, or frustrated or bored? How did you feel before you ate that and after you finished? Use your diary to identify your emotional relationship with food and perhaps identify and correct any potential problem areas. Use your food diary or journal to record your thoughts and feelings related to what you ate during each meal, snack or even the occasional binge eating episode.
Tracking your daily food and calorie intake will provide useful tools for healthy weight loss and weight maintenance. Your food diary will increase your awareness of what you eat and why you eat those foods. Most importantly, your food diary will allow you to take responsibility for those food and drink choices and identify and adjust your lifestyle choices if needed.