Most dieters know that keeping a journal helps with accountability and “staying on track.” In fact, in a study of 123 postmenopausal women, those who completed more food journals experienced significantly greater weight loss (Kong, J Acad Nutr and Diet, 2012). One of the keys of successful weight maintenance has been keeping a food intake journal which tracks foods, amounts, and calories. However, it may be also helpful to track the time of day when food is eaten, events that are happening at the time, and emotions. These other aspects related to eating can help one identify the triggers related to eating. For example, after keeping a record, one might discover that the most difficult time to avoid snacking is between 3:00-5:00 PM or before dinner. Techniques such as going for a walk, calling a friend, or planning another activity to avoid snacking can then be used.
Some people still use paper and pencil to record their intake. Others may use mobile or electronic devices to do the job. There are lots of options today to keep track of behaviors. Finding the right one for you or that fits into your lifestyle is important.
Another self-monitoring activity is recording your body weight. Although it may not be right for everyone, many people will benefit from daily or weekly weighing. It is important to have an accurate scale, weigh about the same time each day, and with the same amount of clothing. In long-term weight maintenance, this is an activity that will help one “stay on track.” If your weight goes up a few pounds, it is easier to reverse a small gain then it is to reverse a larger weight gain!