Diary dieters lose twice as much weight

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: November 7th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

“Dear Diary: I had eleven creamy, candy-coated M&Ms yesterday in a moment of weakness. It’s not on my diet plan, but it was too scrumptious to say no. Couldn’t resist those chips, either. And that cheeseburger was to die for. I guess an extra mile or two on the treadmill is in order…”

If this sounds familiar, you just might be on the right track to weight loss. Individuals who track eating habits in a detailed diary might lose up to twice as much weight as those who don’t.

Researchers tracked seventeen-hundred obese and overweight men and women who were at least twenty-five years old for six months.

Participants were encouraged to begin a healthy lifestyle plan using methods such as calorie restriction and moderate exercise in addition to keeping journals. Participants who kept a food journal for six or seven days of the week were most successful, losing an average of eighteen pounds. In contrast, those who did not keep a diary lost only about half that, on average nine pounds.

Food diaries work because they force individuals to be honest about their eating habits and make healthier choices. Because participants write down everything they eat, they might think twice about eating two brownies because it will show up in the diary… and around their waistlines.

Dieters should include exercise while keeping a food diary. The combination of weight loss and physical activity will help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and decrease the risk of life-threatening diseases.