By Ella Kennen
Studies have found that people who keep food journals lose more weight than those who don't. Why? Because a food diary makes you focus on what you eat (and sometimes also on when, where, and why). This knowledge leads to healthier eating choices, less caloric excess, and in the end, better weight management.
What exactly is a food diary? It's a record of everything you eat and drink -- including sauces, snacks, candy, and water. Besides this basic requirement, food journals can take many shapes:
- Some focus on your caloric intake and nutritional breakdown, from fats to fiber.
- Others help you determine your physiological (how do you physically feel before and after you eat) and psychological (what mood are you in? do you eat with people or alone?) eating patterns.
- Many include spaces where you can jot down your physical activity for the day.
Keeping a food diary can be an eye-opening experience. Chances are, for instance, that you are consuming a lot less fiber, water, fruits and vegetables than you should. Or that while your meals are reasonable, all that "grazing" that you do in between is sabotaging your weight. Perhaps you'll discover you're ruining those healthy salads with fatty dressing. Or that your light morning and lunch meals make you overeat at night.
Maybe you'll find out that the fabulous diet you're on is so restrictive that it causes you to binge every couple of days. Or that you eat way too much when you park yourself in front of the TV.
There are many poor eating habits that you can work on changing -- once you are aware of them.
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