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Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal

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A new study has confirmed that keeping a food journal does actually help with weight loss. While any diet that reduces the calories you consume will help you lose the weight, keeping a food journal can actually make a big difference. Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recently published a study that looked at actual behaviors that support reducing calorie consumption in sedentary people, the obese and overweight post-menopausal women between 50 and 75.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, looked at 123 women for an entire year. Women were assigned to either an exercise and diet group or a diet-only group. The researchers analyzed the impact of many types of self-monitoring strategies commonly used by people trying to lose weight, as well as diet-related behavior and the meal patterns of participants.

After one year, women in both groups lost 10% of their starting weight on average. Those who kept food journals, however, saw the biggest weight loss and lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not keep a food journal.

Researchers also found that skipping meals caused women to lose nearly 8 pounds less than those who did not skip any meals. The study also found that eating lunch at a restaurant one or more times every week caused women to lose an average of 5 pounds less than women who ate lunch out less often. While dining out for breakfast and dinner did impact weight loss, lunch seemed to cause the biggest change.

So how can you keep an effective food journal to help you track your food intake? Anything that’s convenient for you works, whether it’s a phone app, a detailed and dedicated food journal in a notebook or simply a small note pad. To truly get the best results from your journal, make sure you honestly record everything you eat and drink, including 0-calorie diet drinks.

You should also be as accurate as possible about the servings you consume. Get used to serving sizes and corresponding calories by reading food labels to find out serving size, counting the items you eat (3 Oreos, for example) and actually measuring your food first. Describe how the food was prepared and add any condiments, sauce or gravy as well. Finally, don’t forget to be consistent and stick to the food journal even when you’re away from the house. Don’t assume you’ll remember to record a meal at a restaurant when you get home — write it on a scrap piece of paper and record it right away.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Official Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the premier source for the practice and science of food, nutrition, and dietetics. The monthly, peer-reviewed journal presents original articles…

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Editor-in-Chief: Linda Van Horn, RD, PhD
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More at www.journals.elsevier.com

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