5 Tips To Lose Weight Using A Food Journal

By Amir Khan on July 13, 2012 7:47 AM EDT

Diet
For women looking to lose weight, a food journal may be the best way to do so (Photo: Creative Commons)

For women looking to lose weight, a food journal may be the best way to do so, according to a new study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers found that monitoring their diet helped women lose more weight than women who did not do so.

Researchers evaluated the impact of self-reporting dieting habits and found that of the 123 women involved in the study, women who completed food journals lost 6 pounds more, on average, than those who didn't. In addition, women who skipped meals lost 8 fewer pounds than those who didn't.

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"The food journal helps you keep track, in real time, of what you are eating," Dr. Anne McTiernan, lead author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told ABC News. "Restaurant eating, on the other hand, makes it difficult to know what you are eating, and the serving sizes are often large enough for several people. So, it's difficult to keep an account of what you eat if you don't know what's going into the food."

Dieting is difficult without keeping track of what you're eating, researchers said,  but the biggest obstacle is setting unrealistic goals.

"If you weigh 250 pounds, you won't get down to 125 overnight," she said. "That might take a couple of years, or you might need medical help. The good news is that you get major health benefits by just reducing by 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight."

Interested in keeping a food journal? Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

1)      Record everything you eat -- forgetting to write things down or lying about it will only hurt your progress

2)      Measure portions and read labels so you know exactly what you're eating

3)      Be sure to include toppings  and condiments in your food journal

4)      Carry your food journal everywhere so you can log your meal immediately

5)      Try to avoid eating out -- people who ate lunch out once a week lost 5 fewer pounds

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