Your fitness journey hasn’t been easy. You’ve sacrificed your favorite foods, exercised for hours at a time, turned down drinks with friends, and even chugged super green smoothies. And let’s not forget that time your friend conned you into a month of 5 AM hot yoga classes.
Yet the one thing you haven’t done, the easiest of them all, is scientifically proven to promote weight loss; and it’s sitting in your backpack or kitchen drawer.
Ditching the fancy tracking apps and keeping a physical food diary is a complete nutrition game changer. Not to mention it’s free. By deciding to go old school and put pen to paper, as opposed to mindlessly checking boxes on a screen, you’re forced to think about your food choices a little harder. Suddenly, that third trip through the dessert table at the buffet doesn’t seem so worth it…
So kick back, grab a pen, a journal, and read on to learn three reasons you should write down your food intake – at least once.
1. Assures Accurate Tracking
We’ve all been there: meticulously following our diet plan, grumbling tummy and all, yet not losing any weight. There are lots of reasons why this might occur, but the foundational reason is: you’re simply eating too many calories to drive weight loss.
You might ask yourself, “How could this be?”
The answer is most likely very simple: your tracking isn’t accurate. Either you forget about some of the food you eat, not taking into account the calories they’re adding to your daily total, or you underestimate how much you’re eating. For instance, when your co-worker brings in their favorite trail mix recipe and you take a small handful, you might not think it’s worth tracking, but calories are calories, no matter how small.
Writing down your food intake each time you eat forces you to acknowledge every last bite. You may come to find that your occasional nibbles total a few hundred calories. No wonder you haven’t been losing weight!
2. Promotes Weight Loss
A study published by Kaiser Permanente, involving nearly 1,700 men and women, found the best predictor of weight loss among study participants was how frequently food diaries were kept. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight compared to those who kept no records at all.
“It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories,” said lead author Jack Hollis, Ph.D.
Successful participants didn’t change their diets or eat less, they simply wrote it all down. If you’re trying to lose weight, but neglecting to keep a food journal, you’ve just stumbled upon the easiest solution out there. No fit tea needed.
3. Slows You Down
Before you order a Grande White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, you’ll stop to think about the hundreds of added calories you’re about to guzzle down. If you weren’t recording your food intake, those calories would happily flow into your mouth without a second thought, leaving you to wonder why your pants keep getting tighter.
Pausing to write down your food choices may help you think twice before sabotaging your own goals. If you do opt for a mid-morning treat, recording it right away in your food journal will help you plan out your portion sizes for the rest of the day.
As an added bonus, slowing down your eating speed allows time for satiety signals to be sent to the brain and has a profound impact on appetite management. Eating slower often leads to eating less, resulting in more weight lost.
- Write everything down: Food choices, portion sizes, brands (if applicable), and times you eat. Want to be even more thorough? Record your mood and what you’re doing while eating. Doing so helps reveal habits – like emotional eating – that may be the reason for weight gain or plateau.
- Log in real time: Writing meals out ahead of time assumes you’re sticking to them 100%. Log each time you eat – nibbles included – to assure accuracy and provide time for reflection.
- Keep a pen and paper handy: In your backpack, pocket, or at your kitchen table. This way you’re always prepared.
Journaling your food intake in a food diary can be tedious and time-consuming, but it promotes accuracy, assists in weight loss, and slows you down – all attributes that make meeting and exceeding health goals easier. This week, forget your tracking apps and challenge yourself to write everything down. You might be surprised at what you learn. Happy tracking!
- Kaiser Permanente. (2008, July 8). Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Accessed: April 27, 2018. Retrieved from: