A food diary keeps weight loss plans on track

By writing down what they eat in food diaries, dieters will discover bad eating habits they may not have noticed. Eating mindlessly, piling up huge portions and letting emotions and moods lead to overindulgence are actions that a food journal will be able to keep in check.

Keeping a food diary has as much to do with how you eat as what you eat. The emotions that lead to binging, late-night cravings and between-meals snacking – all of them frequently heavy in salt, sugar, fat and carbohydrates – can pile on extra pounds.

Heart-HealthyLiving.com suggests keeping a record of everything you normally eat and drink for one week without making changes in food choices. This provides a clear look at what’s been consumed on a regular basis and where the changes ought to be made for better nutrition as well as cutting down calories.

Once eating habits are determined, what needs to be cut and what should stay in your diet can be easier to identify. That doesn’t mean having only celery sticks between meals and never allowing yourself treats. Not adding in some foods that one enjoys isn’t realistic and will cause people to fall off the wagon sooner because they’ll feel deprived, said Amy Jamieson-Petonic, national spokeswoman for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Not having this true picture of a patient’s eating habits hinders my ability to help them set realistic heart-healthy goals,” she told Heart-Healthy Living.

Start good habits
Small changes can lead to big results. Eating breakfast every day will help stave off mid-morning hunger pangs. Adding more vegetables and fruits benefit not just the waistline, but keep blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar at healthier levels. And portion control is very important to losing weight, so keeping a food scale next to the journal may be a reminder to keep your meal portions under control.

Dietitian Julie Zumpano told the website that her clients keep a daily food diary for one month, then  record their eating choices for three or four days every other week. Otherwise, she said, the journaling becomes tedious and people may give up on it.

Once the journal is well under way, another strategy is to write out a daily menu plan to follow, rather than record food choices only after they are eaten. The menus become a guide for a day’s worth of snacks and meals.

Fill log with details
Logging in food choices regularly is an aid not only for dropping pounds, but maintaining a healthy weight, according to the Cleveland Clinic. To cover all aspects of one’s consumption, the clinic recommends listing times and places when eating occurs, the type and quantity of food eaten and feelings that are going on while eating.

The clinic also advises being specific. Instead of recording simply a turkey sandwich, all the ingredients should be noted because calories can creep up depending on the bread chosen or if cheese is added.

Why record the place and emotions when eating? There may be an inclination to overeat at certain times of the day or in some locations. Noting one’s feelings also gives a clue about whether consumption takes place because of emotions, rather than hunger. Dieters armed with this knowledge learn more about their eating habits and how to improve them. When all activities are recorded, they aren’t as likely to be forgotten in the daily calorie count.

Someone who is trying to maintain weight loss through a balanced diet may also benefit by adding nutrient-rich dietary supplements that keep cravings under control. Skinny D from Dr. Newton’s Naturals, for instance, is clinically tested to reduce pounds by allowing people to replace one meal a day at only 10 calories per serving.