Research shows that keeping a food journal is a powerful weight loss tool. Why? ‘At a very basic level, we know that the act of writing something down helps people make changes and stick with those changes,’ says Dr. Colleen Cannon, a Calgary clinical psychologist and co-founder of Craving Change, a program that helps people address the emotional side of eating. ‘It raises your awareness of what you’re eating and when you’re eating.’ Best Health talked to Dr. Jack Hollis, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, and the lead author on a recent study on food diaries, about how to make your food journal super-effective.
1. Note details
Just writing down what you consume is helpful, but including portion sizes and keeping track of calories, especially in the early stages, boosts your understanding of appropriate servings. Update your food journal right after each meal or snack too, rather than at the end of the day, to improve accuracy. Dr. Cannon also suggests noting emotions and locations, to see if you can pinpoint any trouble spots or triggers.
2. Share your food journal
To stay motivated, compare notes on your food diary with a supportive family member, friend or diet buddy once a week.
3. Make it convenient
Admittedly, keeping track of every meal, drink and snack can be a bit annoying, so choose a method that works best for your life, whether it’s texting or emailing yourself, or using a small notebook. Better yet, download our handy Best Health printable food journal, which you can fill in on the go and store in a three-ring binder.
4. Think long-term
People often stop keeping food diaries once the weight starts coming off. If the pounds do start to creep up again, return to your food journal to get back on track.
Don’t miss out! Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.