Keeping a log of the foods (and beverages) you eat each day is a valuable tool that has been used by dietitians for years. A food diary can help individuals count calories, identify eating habits, monitor nutritional inadequacies and link certain foods to symptoms of digestive disorders or allergies.
The benefits don’t end there. According to a 2008 study, participants that kept food journals, lost more weight than those that did not.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research followed 1,685 overweight and obese adults. The researchers encouraged participants to adhere to a reduced-calorie, DASH eating plan and asked them to record their daily food and beverage intake and exercise. Participants who did not keep a food diary lost about 9 pounds over the course of the study, while those who recorded their food intake six or more days per week lost 18 pounds.
“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” said lead author Jack Hollis Ph.D., a researcher at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.”
“It’s the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior,” says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member.
Food diaries are not only beneficial to those trying to lose weight. Those suffering with IBS or other intestinal disorders have found keeping food diaries to be useful in identifying triggers. By documenting not only the foods that are eaten, but also symptoms, makes it easier to find a link between certain foods and their IBS.
Have you ever tried a food diary? Do you have any questions? How can I help? To start tracking your own diet, download a printable 3-day food journal.