Keeping a food diary helps people lose twice as much weight, research finds.
Simply writing down a quick note of each meal or snack boosts people’s awareness of what they are eating.
In fact, people who make more notes end up losing more weight, the study showed.
The key to more weight loss — on any diet — is monitoring food intake quickly and consistently, day after day.
Food diaries do not need to be complicated — simply sending oneself a text or email is enough to increase awareness.
The conclusions come from a study of 1,685 people.
They were following a heart-healthy diet that included large amounts of fruit and vegetables.
Everyone did 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day and attended weekly sessions to track their progress.
After six months, more than two-thirds had lost at least 9 pounds and the average weight loss was 13 pounds.
People who kept food diaries, though, lost twice as much weight.
Dr Jack Hollis, the study’s first author, said:
“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost.
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.”
Dr Victor Stevens, study co-author, said:
“More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
If we all lost just nine pounds, like the majority of people in this study did, our nation would see vast decreases in hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Hollis et al., 2008).