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How a Food Diary Could Help You Lose Weight

A dietitian discusses the benefits of recording what you eat

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A dietitian discusses the benefits of recording what you eat

Did you know that people who keep food journals lose more weight and keep more weight off in the long run? A food diary helps you confront the truth about how much, when and why you eat. Once armed with that information, you can start setting goals and making changes.

Cathy Garvey, registered dietitian at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, says this “bite it and write it” strategy can also be helpful to:

Control overeating

You are less likely to go for that second helping if you know you have to write it down.

Track progress

It can be motivating to look back and see that you are eating better today than you did weeks or months ago.

Connect eating to emotions

Certain feelings may trigger eating when you’re not even hungry. Only once you identify the causes can you start to do something about them.

Point out nutrition imbalances

Seeing food choices in black and white helps to uncover food and nutrient gaps you may have been neglecting.

Monitor eating patterns

Keeping tabs on your meals and snacks helps reveal things like that seven-hour gap between lunch and dinner, or the fact that you’re hungry only one hour after eating breakfast.

Garvey uses food diaries less as a calorie counter and more as a tool to help her clients work healthier foods into their meal plans.

Her mantra? “Once you are eating better, the weight loss (and health benefits) will follow.”

Start a food diary and get guidance

Download (PDF, 660 KB) our food diary worksheets.