Write It Down: How a food journal can help you lose weight

For patients of Lap Band in Atlanta, a food journal can be very usefulExercise equipment, support groups, a carefully-planned menu—these can all be invaluable tools in every Macon Lap Band patient’s quest to lose weight. However, many weight loss patients may not be taking advantage of two other useful items that can be found in just about any home in America: pen and paper.

A recent study of eating behaviors in female dieters highlights the food journal as one of the best tools for keeping your weight loss progress on track and consistent. Though your Lap Band will help you eat fewer calories overall, writing down each food choice you make will give you a concrete look at your diet and your progress.

Here’s a look at one recent study that proves just how useful a food journal can be:

How they did it…

Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study followed 123 Seattle women who had previously been overweight, inactive and postmenopausal. Participants were asked to follow a reduced calorie diet that hoped to help them reduce their overall weight by 10 percent in six months, while only half of the women were put on an exercise program.

Each participant was asked to record her daily eating habits in journals provided by dietary counselors. They were also asked to complete questionnaires that assessed each participant’s unique eating habits and weight loss strategies.

What they found…

Though each participant lost the goal amount of 10 percent of their starting weight, researchers discovered that women who regularly filled out their food journals lost an average of six more pounds than those who didn’t. This may be attributed to the heightened awareness that creating a food journal offers—you are less likely to succumb to mindless eating habits if forced to confess them later.

Keeping a food journal will help you become more mindful of what you eat, when you eat and how often you eat. You will become more accountable for your eating behaviors as you become more aware of everything you feed yourself. If you give in to bad habits, writing them down in your food journal will force you to confront them later rather than disregarding or forgetting them.

Few easy options are as highly beneficial for dieters as a food journal, so here are some guidelines on getting started:

  • Be honest. If you omit information or lie in your food journal, you’re only hurting your own progress. You may be embarrassed by slip-ups, but recording them along with your good habits will help you put everything in perspective. As you slip up less and less, you can look back on the mistakes you recorded to gauge how far you’ve come.
  • Be accurate and in-depth. Do your best to be meticulous in your entries, recording portion sizes and nutritional facts for every food you eat. This kind of information may be exhaustive at first but will be useful as you become more knowledgeable about nutrition, and may help your weight loss surgeon make sense of your habits if you need to show him your food journal. You should also include how the food was prepared and any toppings or condiments used.
  • Stay consistent. If you’re starting a food journal, be sure to stay committed to it and record everything consistently. To help with this, try carrying your food journal with you whenever possible. You can even use one of many available diet-tracking apps if you have a smartphone, making it even easier to record each entry.

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