I am sometimes asked, “Does keeping a food journal work?” Studies show that keeping a food diary helps people lose weight. One study, from the August 2008 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that the most powerful predictor of weight loss success was the number of days each week you kept your diary: the more days, the more weight loss! People who kept a food journal six days a week, writing down everything they ate and drank on those days, lost about twice as much weight as those who kept a journal one day a week or less.
For me, it’s about awareness and accountability. A food diary gives me a constant reminder that I am trying to lose weight, and keeps me vigilant about the foods I eat. A food diary, also called a food journal or calorie journal, gives me a sense of accomplishment…especially when I share my food diary with someone else. It’s like I get to brag about how well I ate! My journal also gives me some structure and accountability, which really helps me make healthy food choices and stay motivated.
And I love how much I’ve learned about food. Using a food journal for calorie counting has helped me become knowledgeable about the nutrition of different foods, which makes going to restaurants much easier (I can spot a high-calorie dish 100 feet away!)
A few tips:
- Keep track of EVERYTHING! Don’t cheat! When you have a bad day, that’s okay…just write it down. Seeing your patterns & progress is part of what makes tracking with a food journal so effective!
- Write as you go, rather than waiting until the end of the day to record everything. If you procrastinate, it gets harder and harder. This is one of the advantages of an online food diary. If you would rather write it all down, be sure to use a notepad that can fit in your purse or gym bag!
- Use whatever type of food diary that works best for you. I prefer an online food journal, but some people use a notebook, and others use their Blackberry or IPhone. As long as you use some kind of food journal, you’re probably more likely to lose weight!