Fats and Finance
In a previous post we compared dieting to personal finance. It’s a great analogy because calories and pounds can be counted just like coins (or large bank notes, if we’re talking about pork sausage pasta). Not everyone has an accountant on retainer to manage their money, however, and not everyone has a personal fitness trainer to monitor their meals. That’s okay—here’s a simple suggestion to help you budget your weight wisely and practice culinary thrift: write down what you eat!
Could You Repeat the Question
Are you one of those people who can’t recall what you had for breakfast yesterday? Or, as Neal Maxwell put it, have you reached the point where you can safely hide your own Easter eggs? Relax, you don’t have to answer. The weakest of pencils is better than the strongest of memories, so get a little notebook and start writing down what you eat when you eat it. It’s that easy.
Keep It Simple
Your food diary doesn’t need to be elaborate. Scribbles on Post-its are just fine. Want to use a keyboard, voice recognition software, or a fountain pen with an iridium nib on bound parchment? Go for it, but it’ll make pretty bland reading for posterity. The main thing is to regularly reflect on the food you eat to increase awareness, which translates into a better body. It’s a bit like keeping receipts from the gas pump so you can get an idea of how many miles per gallon your DeLorean is getting—and your body is certainly worth more than any vintage boltbucket. You live there! It’s your home, and your diet is a clever act of home improvement that’s sure to increase your property value.
I See a Pattern
Really, food journaling is the write idea if you’re serious about losing weight NOW. Write down your food, how much you ate, the time of day, notes about where you ate or how you felt, and the automated differential of your white blood cell evaluation. Just kidding. Four columns on a page, that’s it. How will this help? Well—it will help you see patterns in your eating:
- Is there a time of day you’re more likely to indulge?
- Was that an incidental bon-bon, or does it really count?
- Are you eating for emotional reasons, i.e. bored or upset?
- How often are you eating out?
- Shouldn’t you give yourself more credit for a diet well done?
- Do you eat in bed, while driving, at work, or while reading an excellent blog about food journaling? *ahem*
Studies Have Shown
Still think we’re making this up? We would never. According to an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study reviewed by ScienceDaily and WebMD, keeping a food diary is an effective predictor of successful weight loss. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. 1,685 overweight or obese U.S. adults aged 25 and older were encouraged to journal their food, and the ones who picked up the pen lost almost twice as much over six months as those who didn’t. “The most powerful predictor of their weight loss was how many days per week they kept their food diary,” said Victor Stevens, PhD, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “Those who kept food records six days a week- -jotting down everything they ate and drank on those days- -lost about twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less,” reported Stevens.
How should you get started? You’re still reading, so you already have. Remember to be honest with yourself, write as you go instead of trying to remember it all at night, and not to skip over cheating episodes. Don’t worry about perfect grammar and spelling.
A Little is a Lot
Losing even a modest amount of body fat can greatly reduce health risks, so keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to control your weight and improve your quality of life. It’s practical, inexpensive, and easy. Start where you’re at and see where it takes you. See if you can grab a notebook and write column headers before your computer shuts down!
Food ~ Amount ~ Time ~ Notes__________
apple 1 3:00 snack took the edge off
How did keeping a food diary help you lose weight? Post below and share your success!