What’s a doctor’s #1 tip for weight loss success? Writing down everything you consume–eat or drink–in a food diary. Whether you purchase a paper journal or use an online app, you must be consistent.
“It’s challenging to make changes to your diet when you’re not paying close attention to what you’re eating,”
Dr. Anne McTiernan
Said researcher Dr. Anne McTiernan, director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in a statement.
Dr. McTiernan led a study of 123 sedentary postmenopausal women aged 50 to 75 randomly assigned participants to one of two weight reduction plans. The first was a limited calorie diet alone, the second was exercise plus a diet.
The women filled out several rounds of questionnaires describing their dietary intake. Additionally, they shared any eating-related weight reduction strategies they used, plus meal patterns along with other behaviors like eating out or food journaling.
The study participants also filled out a 120 item food frequency questionnaire to track dietary changes from the start to the end of the one year study. Usually, women in both groups lost weight, about 11% of their initial weight, or 19 lbs., which met the study’s goals.
The Food Diary Brought Positive Weight Loss Results
But McTiernan and her co-workers noticed that one specific strategy that some of the women used was associated with more weight reduction–keeping a food diary. (This is also called a food journal). More often than the people who didn’t keep a food journal, these women achieved weight loss success. This outcome is most likely because they held themselves accountable for everything they ate.
Maintaining a food diary is not easy or convenient. But when you do this consistently, it might help steer you towards healthier food choices. That is because it enables you not only to keep track of caloric intake but also to measure the overall quality (and quantity!) of your choices.
The authors of the study advised dieters to write down absolutely everything in food journals for them. Participants also included condiments, toppings, and sauces, and to keep track of portion sizes with diligence.
The women in the study received printed booklets to use as their food journals. However, you can use whatever you like at home, from a low-technology spiral notebook and pen to online applications on your iPhone or tablet (like the Weight Watchers WW App).
Another Notable Outcome
Women who were reportedly skipping meals lost nearly 8 pounds less than the women who ate regularly. The authors noted their belief that whenever individuals skip meals, they are more prone to binge eat or eat unhealthy, fattening foods, later on. As a result, people will eat more calories overall.
Habitual meal skipping or fasting could also affect the body’s metabolic process, discouraging weight reduction. Researchers also think skipping meals might go together with some other negative behaviors. For example, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and to prepare meals may lead a person to skip meals and eat out more, noted McTiernan.
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The Study’s Bottom Line
Keeping a food diary and eating regular, nutritious meals are keys to success at losing weight. According to Dr. McTiernan’s study, you find mindfulness by food journaling. The routine keeps you on track and acutely aware of–and responsible for–every morsel that you eat.
Keep a Food Diary and Achieve Weight Loss the Proven Way: Join WW
There is one effortless way to keep a food journal–by joining WW, the new and newly re-invented Weight Watchers program. It assigns point values to the food you eat; you track it in a convenient app. You access it from either your smartphone, tablet, or via computer.
If you want to achieve weight loss, give them a try. I did, and I lost 62 pounds in just over six months. I have reshaped my body entirely. But not only do I look and feel better, but I have also reduced my high blood pressure. Reaching my goal weight has made me proud of my efforts.
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