Even though most weight management programs emphasize “keeping a food/exercise journal” or self-monitoring as being very important, many people fail to use this technique to help them with short and long-term weight management. Keeping a journal is one of the most effective tools to help in both weight loss and weight maintenance. According to the National Weight Control Registry, many of the patients who successfully lost and kept off their weight used a food diary to help them keep in control.
A food diary should consist of what, when, where, and how much food is eaten. In addition it may be helpful to describe “why” the food was consumed. Don’t forget to record both solid and liquid foods. The diary can be kept in a small notebook, on a piece of paper, on a computer site, or cell phone. There are apps for the cell phones that make recording easier. But remember any way to monitor your intake is helpful! The key is to do it and stick with it!
The “why” part of the food record or journal may be difficult for you to figure out. But it may help you distinguish between hunger, cravings, and simply habit. By writing down the food intake and identifying the when, where, how much, and why, you can identify part of your eating habits that may need changing. It may help you identify the cues (both internal and environmental) that cause you to overeat or under-exercise. Or it may also identify how healthy you really do eat!