Have you heard the latest weight loss research? “In one study of nearly 1,700 overweight and obese adults, those who kept daily food diaries lost twice as much weight as those who did not,” according to the Summer 2010 issue of Glendale Adventist Hospital’s Health Quarterly.
Why are food journals so effective? Here are just a few reasons:
They instill a greater awareness of the daily amount of calories you consume, as well as the nutritional quality of your food choices.
Looking up the foods you eat in a calorie counter book or online tool helps you to identify which foods are excessively high in calories, and can be easily eliminated and/or substituted with more healthy fare. An example would be eliminating sugary soft drinks, overly-rich coffee drinks or alcoholic beverages.
When you plan your meals a day ahead, the food journal helps you prepare for unusual situations, such as special occasions (weddings, birthdays, etc.), restaurant meals, vacations, buffet meals and potlucks.
You can incorporate your week’s exercise sessions into the food journal.
You may note your mood behind certain food behaviors and circumstances, and take journaling to the next level - to evaluate what is truly going on in your life. You will see where changes that extend well beyond your initial weight loss goals may be needed.
How can you best implement this sound advice? Follow these three steps: 1. Awareness, 2. Analysis and 3. Implementation.
Take a small notebook and divide it into three columns: “Time/Amount/Food” and write down everything that goes into your mouth, including beverages, for one week. Other options are calorieburn.com, calorieking.com or a handy iPhone or iPad app - do what works best for you!
Now take a scientific look at the real you: Do you skip breakfast and then overindulge at lunch time? Do you consume a lot of sugary, high-calorie beverages, snack mindlessly at your desk or eat primarily heavy restaurant fare? Do you notice that you eat when you are tired, lonely, stressed out or bored?
Determine, with your calorie counting option, the average calories you consumed for the week. Then, set a new goal for yourself, one or two hundred calories lower – don’t go extremely low! Repeat the journaling as before, adding a fourth column for calories. Stay active, continue to build on the awareness you have established by choosing healthier options, and soon you should see some positive changes when you step on the scale!