Remember when you kept a journal or diary when you were in elementary school? Now experts say that picking up the habit again can make you shed double the pounds or more! Studies found that dieters who kept a food diary six times per week lost twice the weight as dieters who only wrote in their food diary once per week or not at all! Here’s why it works:
You’ll Be More Aware of What You’re Eating
Do you know how much you’re eating everyday? You know how many actual meals you have in a day, but how about the little things you eat in-between meals that can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake? Executive director of the Center for Mindful Eating, Megrette Fletcher, says that writing down exactly what and how much you eat daily reveals exactly how many total calories you’re ingesting.
Did you know that eating just 17 gummy bears adds up to over 140 calories (depending on the variety)? After looking over your daily entries, you may realize that your single trip to the vending machine between classes to buy a pack of gummy bears is adding over half a thousand calories to your daily intake even if you end up finishing the entire pack by the time your classes are over!
You’ll Realize Why You’re Eating
You’d think that people only eat because they feel hungry and need nourishment. But, do you always eat when you’re hungry? Think back to the last time you felt a little sad and indulged in something sweet. If you like sugar and milk in your coffee, drinking more than one cup a day to keep you energized could be giving you over 70 calories. And can you honestly say you haven’t grabbed something to eat or drink when you watch TV?
Both Fletcher and Dr. Victoria Catenacci, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, say that you can pinpoint problem areas that are culprits for your weight gain by reviewing the reasons you’ve eaten during the day. But this only works if you make it a rule to meticulously jot down every single thing you eat or drink, even if it’s just one spoonful of your friend’s cooking that she wanted you to taste.
These little random snacks and calorie-filled drinks that you ingest throughout the day may show a pattern after a weekly review of your food diary. Maybe you’ll realize that studying at Starbucks everyday is adding 300 more calories to your diet, whereas during the days when you study at the library where food isn’t permitted you’re taking in 300 calories less overall.
You might even gain valuable insight about something as mundane as setting your thermostat too low when you get home. An NIH study states that colder temperatures have been found to increase your appetite under some circumstances. If you find that you snack less on days when your home’s temperature is higher, then you can adjust your thermostat accordingly to keep you from gaining weight.
These things you wouldn’t necessarily observe without a meticulous log of what you’re eating daily and the surrounding circumstances on why you’ve eaten.
You’ll Understand Why You’re Really Overeating
It might feel uncontrollable when you binge eat or eat large meals. This is why most dieters feel hopeless and give up on their weight loss efforts. You might conclude that you just don’t have it in you to stick to a diet. But, Massachusetts General Hospital psychologist Sherrie Delinsky says that may not be the case. She states that there are many underlying reasons for why you overeat. These can be revealed by keeping a daily food diary.
She says that if you don’t eat enough during the day, you put yourself at risk for overeating at night. Intentionally starving yourself during set periods is an actual dieting strategy called intermittent fasting. While it’s an efficient weight loss strategy carrying many health benefits, it still requires that you count your calories. If you simply skip breakfast, eat a small lunch, have a few snacks, then come home and have a 2000-calorie dinner entailing a full course meal, a side of potato chips, and dessert, then you defeat the purpose of starving yourself during the day.
You might also be overeating when you go drinking with your friends or during your weekend movie nights with them. Your food diary will bring these carb-laden events to your attention. It doesn’t mean you have to stop going to the bar or movies with your friends. It just means you should be more mindful about how many nuts you snack on while drinking. Or, how much popcorn and junk food you eat during a movie marathon.
You’ll Feel too Lazy to Eat
Delinsky says that dieters who keep food diaries end up feeling too lazy to snack at times. Imagine jotting every single thing you eat down. Soon, you wonder whether eating that piece of chocolate at 2:30 am is worth it. Is it worth the annoyance of opening up your diary, detailing the tiny snack, time of consumption, and other tedious factors? Most dieters feel overwhelmed just thinking about the process and end up sighing and simply walking back to bed sans snack.
Why You Should Keep an Online Digital Food Diary
Nowadays, keeping a diary is as easy as creating a Google Docs file. Update it using any of your cloud-linked devices and your entries will become multi-dimensional. You can access the entirety of your food diary from your smartphone, iPod, and your friends’ computer. That means if you have a bite of anything, you’ll be able to make an entry no matter where you are. You’ll also be able to google calorie contents of foods you’re unfamiliar with and augment your entries with accurate information.
A digital food diary also allows you to quickly search through your entries using keyword search functions when you want to look for repeating habits or patterns in your everyday diet.
Unlike a physical diary, you can choose to quickly share your digital food diary within seconds. You can upload to weight loss apps and online communities that specialize in giving weight loss journey feedback. Or, instantly share your latest entry with your dietitian or weight loss personal trainer. This instant sharing capability can be very helpful. After all, you can get real-time feedback about something you just ate or negative eating habits you haven’t caught.
Start your food diary today and start losing twice the weight! Remember to include your reason for eating, your level of hunger, and any other relevant factors you can think of. It’s best to keep a strict format so you can keep your entries consistent.