Typical diets do not work. They are frustrating, overwhelming, sometimes expensive and usually long-term weight loss fails. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests a Food Diary or Food Journal may be the key to weight loss success.
A Food Diary can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The simplest involves accurately recording your food intake and the calories at the time you are eating or before you eat. (If you wait until later, you will forget). Something more complicated would include recording grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, the time of day and your feelings.
A Food Journal makes you accountable for everything you eat. You may think you are eating only three healthy meals a day, but you forget all the little extras in between that can start to add up. Maybe you are sneaking a piece of candy or two from the office candy dish, or finishing your kid’s last few french fries. Just an extra 200 calories a day can add up to a weight gain of 20 lbs. in a year.
Recording what and when you eat food can help you determine when you are eating too many calories. Life can be full of social events that take you to places that don’t fit in your diet guidelines. Determining these problems will make you more aware of these events, and allows you to create a plan to avoid or overcome the problems.
Another major component of weight management is portion. A study done by Cornell University found that the bigger your meals are the more you will underestimate how much you ate. Therefore, if you write down what you eat and the amount, you will get a more accurate idea of your calorie intake. Also, many food packages are actually multiple servings, but you may think they are one serving. The Food Diary will educate and train you to read food labels.
The most important result of a Food Diary is that it actually helps you change your eating habits to become healthy habits that you can live with forever. “Diets” are always temporary because they often require you to eat foods you don’t like or don’t fit in your or your family’s lifestyle.
A Food Journal will help you account for calories, preventing you from overeating. It can also show you when you can afford to treat yourself. After a while of utilizing this tool, you will learn to control portions and identify trouble areas, thus creating better eating habits and self-control. All your hard work will pay off when you realize you can afford to indulge in a favorite food and not feel guilty about it.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.