If it’s an article about how to succeed at weight loss, chances are, I’ve read it. Over and over, studies and articles focus on the habits of people who succeed at both losing and maintaining weight loss. Keeping a food diary is one of those habits.
Why does it work? One explanation:
[F]ood diaries force an increased awareness of habits and eating patterns. By allowing patients to follow their eating patterns throughout the day, the visual diary can highlight pitfalls that may have previously gone unnoticed by a dieter.
Additionally, when clinicians such as physicians or dietitians review a diary, they can often point out problematic cues, triggers and habits that may be contributing to weight gain. The increased awareness and knowledge allows for targeted problem-solving to improve these troublesome situations.
In other words, when you hit a plateau, and can’t figure it out, but then look back and see that you’ve doubled your ice cream intake but halved your veggie consumption,you gain a bit of insight.
Last week, several of us were discussing these logs. I’m lucky, in a way, because I’m a list-maker and gadget-user, so tracking everything I eat on Lose It fits easily into my routine. I think tracking what I eat is one of the most powerful tools in my arsenal, frankly.
I totally understand, however, that logging your every bite can be a burden for many people. Are there options that are less work than logging, but that accomplish the same goal?
Take pictures with your phone of everything you eat. This still gives you a record, but you’ve simply snapped a photo instead of writing everything down. If you can download (or upload, whichever it is) to your computer or Flickr, you’ve got a great record to review. But even if you don’t, you have moved from mindless to conscious eating by the simple act of snapping the shot.
Make a check-list. I know that I need to drink a certain volume of water each day, a certain amount of protein, etc. In the past, I made a check list that I could print blank copies of that contained check boxes next to the things I needed.
If my meal plan called for 4 oz. of protein three times a day and nine servings of veggies, I had 12 check boxes next to 1 oz. protein, and nine check boxes next to single servings of veggies. At the end of the day, I could simply make sure all the boxes were checked. If I ate something without a check box, like chocolate, or three servings of fat instead of two, I’d make a note. I didn’t necessarily know what I’d eaten, broccoli or beets, but I knew that I was meeting goals (or not).
Some people in my group are looking for alternatives to logging in Lose It or SparkPeople or the like, so I’d love to hear what you’ve got that works.