One tried and true method for producing weight loss is keeping a food journal. Multiple studies have shown that people who keep track of what they eat lose more weight and are more likely to keep it off permanently. There are several reasons why this works.
First, and foremost, you become accountable for what you put in your mouth. Think of it as a scorecard of your performance. We have all heard the expression, “numbers don’t lie.” When golfers hit the links with a scorecard, they tend to be infinitely more truthful about their game. Keeping a truthful record of your daily food intake provides you with an undeniable scorecard of your performance.
Second, it is virtually impossible for most people to keep a mental tally of everything they eat in a day including calorie values. An old Chinese proverb states, “The palest ink is stronger than the strongest mind.” Take advantage of the power of the pen and write it down as soon as you eat it and keep a running tally. You will be less likely to overeat and consume more calories than you can burn.
Third, it can assist you in finding your trouble spots. Look for trends in your performance. Are you likely to eat more at night? On the weekend? When you are with certain people? Remember, a problem well-defined is 95% solved. If you do not know where you are having trouble, you can’t pinpoint the problem or fix it.
Consistency is the key. Try recording everything you eat for 30 days. For the most effective results, do not skip any days. Make sure to record everything you eat in accurate amounts. You may find that you need to measure foods at first to get a good idea of your portion sizes.
Your food journal can be as simple or as complex as you wish. You may choose to track only your calorie intake or the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you consume. Or you may be inclined to keep track of the times you eat and, if necessary, with whom you are eating. You might also choose to record the grams of fat, cholesterol or carbohydrates consumed along with fiber content. There are many books and resources available to help you find out the nutritional content of any food.
This technique will only take a few minutes out of your day. Ideally, you will see the results on your scale and how your clothes fit within a few days. At the very least you will have valuable information about your dietary habits, with which you can take action and produce the changes you desire.
copyright 2006 Jennifer D. Wetmore, DPT