Affirmation: I joyously write down everything I eat and drink.
When it comes to weight loss, the pen is mightier than the scale. Begin to keep careful track of everything you put into your mouth, including beverages. Being accountable to yourself in this way will be an eye-opening experience, because it will force you to come face-to-face with your total consumption, especially those mindless late-afternoon or late-evening snacks you shove down while on autopilot.
In fact, every day, you make more than 200 choices about what to eat, but you’re aware “of only a fraction” of these food decisions, according to food psychologist Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.
Consider a few mindless decisions you may have made this week: You decided to buy that bag of chocolate-covered peanuts from the work vending machine after a nerve-wracking conversation with your boss. You decided to eat potato chips before dinner. You decided to eat the entire portion of white-flour pasta over Sunday lunch with your family.
Lose Twice the Weight When You Keep Daily Food Records
A study from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research of nearly 1,700 overweight and obese adults, revealed those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.
The researchers also found that people who kept track six or more days per week lost 18 pounds over a six-month period while non-trackers shed only 9 pounds.
Convinced yet about the value of keeping track?
How Your Food Journal Will Help You Quit Sugar
If you religiously write down everything you eat or drink, your food journal helps you become more mindful. For instance, it helps you to pinpoint where you’re getting those “little” extras — say, the four teaspoons of sugar that you slipped into your French vanilla, whipped cream–topped coffee drink.
You’ll also discover what times of day or night are trickiest for you and when you’re most at risk of overeating. Or maybe you’ll learn you’re an emotional eater, who turns to food even if you’re not hungry. If you’re headed toward a binge, writing down what you want to eat can help “wake you up” first.
In addition, keeping a food journal can remind you to round out meals with adequate protein, fat, quality carbs, and fiber, and to pick appropriate portion sizes. You can also track your aerobic exercise and weight training.
Ann Cook’s Sweet Success Story: A Food Diary Helped Me Lose Nearly 150 Pounds
My Rock Bottom Moment: “In spring 2008, I weighed about 300 pounds, had severe type 2 diabetes (which required up to 15 doses of three different types of insulin per day), severe asthma (for which I needed two different inhalers), and debilitating depression. Plus, I was trapped in a very abusive marriage and had six children, then aged 4 to 11.”
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Woke Me Up: “When my children and I were on vacation in Maynard, Massachusetts, we learned that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was filming. We volunteered every day to help build the house. This gave me something else to think about rather than food.”
150 Pounds Came Right Off: “I eliminated refined carbohydrates and added sugars; restricted calories; ate real, whole foods; and began exercising — a lot. I lost almost 150 pounds and shrank from a size 28 to a size 2. I’ve now maintained my weight loss for three years.”
Keeping a Food Diary Made the Difference: “During my entire journey, I kept a small notebook with me at all times and wrote down everything I ate and drank. I also tracked my exercise, thoughts, emotions, and weight. Journaling helped keep me accountable, provided valuable information, and offered me a place to vent both positive and negative emotions.”
My Health Turned Around: “I’ve gone from nearly dying to being vibrantly healthy. I no longer have asthma and show no signs of ever having been diabetic. I continue to eat well and exercise daily. I’m an avid runner, and I enjoy cycling, strength training, hiking, long walks, kayaking, and camping.”
Kicking Sweets Changed Me in Other Ways, Too: “Not only did I break free of my sugar and carb habit, but I ended my abusive marriage and returned to school. I hope to study medicine, because I want to help prevent and cure obesity.”
Start to Keep Track at Your Next Meal or Snack
Record every single time you put something into your mouth — foods or beverages.
Answer The 5 W’s &1 H. Jot down who you’re with, what you’re doing, and what is eating you, if anything; when you’re eating; where you are; why you’re eating and why now; and how you feel beforehand and afterwards.
Evaluate, Then Reevaluate. After a few days of keeping track, review your entries to identify patterns. Are you skipping breakfast and lunch, and then overeating at dinner? Do you grab a sugary snack at 2 p.m. or 10 p.m.? Do certain people set you off? Do you start eating when you’re tired, upset, or nervous? Once you discover your weak points, find better options such as taking a nap if you’re tired, calling a friend if you’re lonely, or crying if you’re sad.
High-Tech? Keep Track with Web Tools
If you’d rather take a more high-tech approach to keeping track of your intake, you can store your food journal online. Here are some options:
SparkPeople. Popular Nutrition Trackers tool. A free mobile app is available.
LoseIt: A popular free mobile app helps you record food and exercise.
Daily Burn: A free online program helps you reach your fitness goals.
LiveStrong: 1,500 fitness activities in addition to an extensive calorie database.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com.
©2012 by Connie Bennett. All Rights Reserved.
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Beyond Sugar Shock: The 6-Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction & Get Slimmer, Sexier & Sweeter by Connie Bennett.
For the millions of people who suffer with problems such as low libido, excess weight, overpowering fatigue, and many other unexplained ailments, Beyond Sugar Shock provides a step-by-step, six-week program to gently guide readers to a healthier life. From Connie Bennett, author of the bestseller Sugar Shock!—the book that Mehmet Oz said “spills the beans” on the shocking impact of sugar and simple carbohydrates—comes Beyond Sugar Shock, the first book to provide a simple, practical, mind-body-spirit plan to help readers break free of their sugar or carb addiction.
About the Author
A former sugar addict, Connie Bennett, CHHC, CPC, ACC is a sought-after transformational speaker, certified health coach, certified life coach, journalist, host of the Gab with the Gurus Radio Show, and creator of the popular Sugar Freedom Now Course. Connie is author of the bestselling book, Sugar Shock: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life—And How You Can Get Back on Track. Visit her blog at SugarShockBlog.com and learn more about her Sugar Freedom Now Course at BreakFreeWithConnie.com