Have you seen the latest news? A new study finds that dieters can double their weight loss by writing down everything they eat.
A pain the rear? Amen! But effective? You betcha!
Time magazine, and several other news outlets, are reporting the striking new results of a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Time states:
Scientists at several clinical-research centers in the U.S. found that dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn't.I'm certainly not surprised, since I'm living proof of the theory. When I write down the foods I consume, I lose weight. When I don't keep my journal, I tend to gain weight.
Why? Again, the Time article says it best:
While most people think they know what they eat, they really have only a general idea and tend to have selective memory, especially when it comes to the foods that aren't so good for us. With a detailed food diary, you can see where those extra calories are coming from.Tracking what I'm consuming every day keeps me conscious and aware of how much I'm eating AND of what kinds of foods I'm choosing. I track not only food and Points (yes, I follow Weight Watchers) but also how many fruits and veggies I eat each day, how much dairy I get in, and how many glasses of water I down.
I also try and take it one step beyond by noting the exercise I do and then, at the end of the day, to note three things I'm grateful for. I have to admit that I don't always take time to do the latter, but I also don't always get in all my fruits, nor do I get out and walk as often as I'd like. Sue me - I'm not perfect! And that's ok. If I write down what I eat and stay within my daily calorie limit, I'll likely lose weight.
Here's the latest version of my food diary, created as an Excel spreadsheet then cut in half. Click on the photo if you want to see the gory details:
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I get so incredibly bored with keeping track of my eating. So I need to mix up the format every once in a while. I used to put fun stickers all over the sheets of a small spiral notebook. Seeing the food entries surrounded by stickers saying, "You Rock!" or "Great Job!" would always make me smile. Now I don't need that so much (hey, I get my cheerleading from all of you -- and boy, am I grateful!)
Just like with everything having to do with good health in general and weight loss in particular, no one way is right for everyone. But I believe that this latest study is pretty compelling. So if you've been on the fence about tracking your food intake, just to see what you truly do consume in a day, let these latest findings give you that nudge over the edge. Remember, even doing it for a couple of days will likely prove very enlightening, as long as you're honest with yourself and write down every morsel (yes, those three M&M's do count!)
None of us have to be perfect at this process. We just have to keep moving forward. It's all about progress, not perfection!
Until next time...