Suppose a few scribbles in a notebook or a diary could help control your weight - sound too good to be true? It's not! Simply jotting down what you eat each day is scientifically proven to be a powerful predictor of weight loss as well as keeping off what you have lost for the long-term.
This idea now has a name put to it as well: The Everyday Challenge. The challenge is designed to promote healthier eating and more exercise while holding the line against weight gains. Those simply seeking to maintain their weight can gain tremendous benefits from keeping a food diary or journal.
Numerous studies have been done on this issue and all show those who keep a daily, written tab of what they ate each day lost the most weight. Experts say this accomplishment comes through learning awareness and accountability for what you eat, as well as focusing attention on food in a positive manner. In addition, it tends to reduce mindless eating throughout the day - a major contributor to weight gain.
On this plan you also learn to pay attention to food labels and what they mean. People always are surprised at the discovery of the amount of calories in something they eat on a regular basis and thought was "Okay". For example, portion size: many people are stunned when they realize the amount of say, meat they eat in a meal is in fact, three servings instead of one serving. (See article on portion sizes for more information - you may be surprised already!). In most cases of the overweight, the portion sizes they eat are way off the mark -- and they are not even aware of this essential dieting fact.
When beginning a food diary or journal, record the amount and type of food and drink you consume. It is very important you record every single thing that crosses your lips including chewing gum. In addition, use a diet scale, measuring cups and suggested amounts of a serving on packages until you become accustomed to what an actual serving of something is. In time you will be able to take a proper amount without all the fuss of measuring, as you will begin to know by sight how much is enough.
It does not matter how you go about keeping a record of your input. It only matters that you do so -- and do so faithfully and honestly. Choose a way you are comfortable with and commit to it. You need a method you will stick to. Some find it easiest to use their computers, others prefer a simple notebook and pencil - it does not matter.
When you begin, do not try to change your eating patterns now that you are recording them. Continue to eat as you always have so you can get an accurate, honest idea of where you can make improvements. Do not worry about counting calories in the beginning, either. The idea is to learn where your weak spots are and later, find areas you can improve on. And remember - you cannot fool anyone by "cheating". If you do reach a point where you wish to count calories -- and this isn't a bad idea somewhere down the road -- there are many books available that give you calories as well as nutrient values in most foods. We offer a Calorie Crash Course, as well.
Last but not least, find a diet buddy. Find someone you are comfortable with and show that person your daily food intake log. Doing so improves accountability further than tracking it alone.
Once you are in the habit of keeping your log, start improving your diet and losing weight! Try to get your five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and be sure you drink enough fluids - five to eight cups a day. In addition, add a little exercise into your day whenever you can. Ten to fifteen minutes, five days a week is a great starting point. Build from there.
- Aim for five servings of fruit and vegetables every day
- Meet an exercise goal every day, even if you break it up into two or three intervals
- Drink five to eight ounces of water daily
- Record your food and drink intake daily. Be brutally honest.
Put the above goals into practice and you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle and if dieting, even losing that weight!
Our sister site offers free downloads of printable food diaries. Grab a free printable food diary and get started now!
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