Record keeping or the “food diary” is one of the most important reported factors in losing weight and keeping it off. Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., of Yale University, a nationally recognized researcher on weight control stated this about record keeping “The first, and perhaps most important lifestyle behavior you will learn is to keep records.” However, most people resist this critical aid in weight loss and maintenance.
Purpose and importance of record keeping for weight loss
keeping a “food diary” is more than simply tracking those little calories. I tend to look at record keeping as more of a lifestyle record, tracking all the main aspects of lifestyle related to weight loss. The biggest and best result of record keeping is AWARENESS! This awareness is the key to the changing of lifestyle behaviors that result in overweight or obesity.
The record will help you achieve the following:
• Learn about foods and calories
• Target daily caloric consumption
• Become more aware of what you are eating
• Increase your control over eating
• Eating patterns and triggers become clear
• Remaining active and exercising regularly
Keys for successful record keeping include:
• Record all the foods you eat, forget nothing
• Record the food, the amount and the calories
• Record the food immediately, do not wait (most of us will forget the serving size or how many or the snack altogether if we wait)
• Carry the food diary with you and use a small pocket size calorie guide
• Record all your exercise and physical activity
• Record the calories expended while exercising
• Record key events or emotions surrounding specific behaviors (if you missed a planned exercise session, what was happening or how were you feeling at the time?)
Reviewing Your Diary
It is important to keep the diary, but it is more important to review and learn from it. Reviewing the diary will give you a good look at your eating and exercising patterns and what influences them. Below are some tips on reviewing your diary.
• Check your diary, at least, every week.
• Look at the times you are eating. Is there a time or times you tend to eat more?
• Look at the quantities of the foods you eat. Are there problem foods that trigger overeating? Are there any foods you could do without?
• Which foods contribute to most of your calories? Can you replace high-calorie foods with lower calorie alternatives?
• Where do you eat? Are any places contributing to overeating or high-calorie intake?
• Look at who you are eating with. Is there anyone who contributes to overeating?
• Look at emotions. Are you eating with specific emotions? Are you eating while bored, depressed, angry, anxious, and lonely? Are you happy or joyful?
• When is exercise “best”? Look at times, activities and locations
• What derails your exercise sessions? Can you avoid or manage these?
As you may see record keeping is more than simply recording calories but will help you become your own detective in identifying healthful and harmful factors in managing your weight loss.
Happy weight loss!