Can a Food Journal Really Help Me Lose Weight?
What you do daily determines what you become permanently.
Yes, at a time when Americans spend $35 billion a year on weight loss products, one of the most beneficial, accessible and affordable weight loss tools is pen and paper!
Why keep a journal?
A food and exercise log will help determine if your diet is healthful and whether you are making progress toward your specific food and exercise goals. For safe and sustainable weight loss, it is generally recommended that individuals lose one to two pounds per week. To lose the minimum, you need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day.
For example, you can achieve this goal by any combination such as eating 250 fewer calories a day (cut out that 20-ounce regular soda) and burning an extra 250 calories through physical activity (swimming laps for 30 minutes).
Experts agree the value of journaling lies in personal accountability, especially if you make adjustments as you review your logs daily or weekly. One of the largest and longest weight loss maintenance trials conducted by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that those who kept an accurate (honest) food journal lost twice as much weight as their nonjournaling counterparts. Also, when physicians or dietitians review your journal, they can better assess what may be contributing to weight gain.
Your journal can be simple lists on paper or logs in your computer. Keep track of all food and beverages you eat as well as daily exercise. Write down the time you ate, location and how you were feeling, along with specifics about the item, amount and calorie intake. Labeled foods usually have that information. Try online calorie databases such as CalorieKing.com for information on produce or when trying to jot down restaurant food values.
As you continue journaling, you may find yourself pausing before reaching for additional food, knowing you have to write it all down. To avoid triggers that push you toward unhealthy foods, develop coping strategies. Text or talk to a friend, listen to a favorite CD, or take a walk to get away from food temptations.
Even after you reach your targeted weight, long-term success is best sustained by continuing a journal, although you could focus future journals on problem times. For example, try journaling on the weekends if you tend to eat more in social settings. Or record weeknight meals, when time constraints and fast food temptations hit.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
At St. Anthony's, our vision is to be the area's premier health care organization
— and your first choice for health care services.