When you’re looking to lose weight for good, using a food diary will increase your odds of success. Since lasting weight loss results can only occur when you make honest lifestyle changes (fad diets and simple fixes, like diet pills and drinks, are never long term solutions), it is important to try and understand the behaviors that made you gain weight or have kept you at an undesirable weight in the first place. More so than living a sedentary lifestyle void of exercise, what you eat ultimately controls your weight and pant size. That’s why starting a food diary and tracking everything you consume is helpful.
Why a Food Diary Works
Just like a check book register to keep track of money coming in and out of your bank account, food diaries give you a clear picture of the number of calories and types of foods you’re consuming each day. For most people, the problem with weight stems from the fact that they aren’t aware of exactly how much they’re eating. Awareness is the first step, and that’s why food diaries work. As soon as you start jotting down everything you eat, you’ll begin to see that the numbers really add up! It’s easier to make healthy decisions when you can approximate the number of calories food items contain. Furthermore, food diaries help you to evenly distribute your calories throughout the day. Eating a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, for instance, can account for approximately half the daily calories an average person needs in a day–it leaves little room for a mid-afternoon snack.
As you begin keeping a food diary, don’t stress too much in the early stages if your daily total calorie intake is much higher than where it should be to lose weight. You started the diary to learn these things. From the initial stages, you’ll see where you can make adjustments to your diet.
How to Use a Food Diary for Results
A food diary can be something as simple as a small notebook and a pen or something as interactive as an online calorie journal like the ones found on SparkPeople.com. The key is to find the one that works best for you, but make sure you have close access to it at most times. With phones like the Blackberry and iPhone, having access to an interactive calorie journal doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your computer.
Whatever you choose, a food diary is only going to work if you’re both honest and diligent. Don’t skip writing down the two cookies you had after dinner because they contained 300 calories over your goal–seeing these things written down will help you to create better behavioral patterns. Also, don’t forget to include everything you eat in your diary. It’s easy to skip over writing down the three pretzels you ate or the sip of wine you sampled, but these things easily add up. You’re not illustrated the entire picture if you selectively write down what you eat.
You can begin keeping a food diary at any time. Combined with motivation and desire to change, it’s a no-fail method to aid your weight loss efforts.