Keeping a food diary helps you lose weight

Dieters who keep a food diary lose weight quicker than those who don’t.

Keeping a food diary could help you shed unwanted pounds, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (copyright Reuters).

In a study of nearly 1,700 overweight adults who were being tested in a weight-loss programme, researchers found that those who kept a daily food diary lost twice as much weight in six months as those who did not. The average loss was 13lbs – a slow and steady rate that probably indicates substantial diet and lifestyle changes.

"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said Dr Jack Hollis, the lead researcher on the study. The diaries were combined, for both the diary group and the control group, with exercise and group meetings where dieters were encouraged to lose weight.

A food diary need not be a formal affair, added the researchers in this study.  Simply making a list of all the food and drink consumed each day can help people become aware of their habits and make changes for the better.

Food diaries are well known to those of us who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, because there’s no other way to keep track of which foods cause reactions and which don’t. They may be tedious, but they’re extremely helpful.

However, clearly something else is at work with these weight-loss diaries. Perhaps some people gain weight because they eat unthinkingly and keeping a diary helps them to spot that, or people can begin to see the emotions or situations that cause them to overeat (being stressed, tired, angry, visiting the in-laws, when certain friends drop by etc) and can then take measures accordingly. Perhaps it makes them realise quite how much they turn to food, and how often.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it’s welcome research – after all, a diary costs nothing to keep so it is a simple thing to add to your repertoire of diet aids. 


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