Registered dietitian, wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic's Lifestyle 180 Program and DoctorOz.com expert, Kristin Kirkpatrick, discusses how keeping a food log can increase awareness of what and why you eat, as well as help you lose weight.
Accountability: Writing everything down and actually seeing your daily intake increases your perception of how much you actually eat.
Makes you stop before you chomp: The extra helping of ranch dressing in your salad, the candy bar you picked up when you got gas for your car, even the second drink you had at dinner. They could all add up to another 150-650 extra in calories. Throughout the day yet we tend to forget about these little food extras and instead focus more on our main meals. When it comes to food though, even a little adds up.
Helps to truly portion out your foods: When individuals are asked to keep a food diary, they often must measure out all their food for the most accurate assessment. I find that many people measure food based on the bowl or plate the food is eaten on. For example, someone may say they have a medium bowl of cereal in the morning when in fact, after measurement, it is determined they actually have a very large serving. Once individuals use more accurate methods of measurement, they have a better understanding of their overall portion distortion.
Ties in the connections to stress, emotion, timing and location: I often ask my clients to jot down not only their food choices and amounts but also the time of the day, location, and emotional level during their meal or snack. This can help people assess how stress may be controlling their food choices. For example, a client of mine realized that she consumed large amounts of chocolate and fried foods after interactions with one of her family members. The family member was clearly a trigger to unhealthy eating but only after seeing the connection on paper did my client realize this. Another client realized he was going 6 or 7 hours in between meals and would gorge because he was so hungry. Many clients are shocked that during the entire day, not one meal was consumed at a table but rather on the couch in front of the TV, in the car. One of my clients realized after she completed her food diary that she ate all her meals standing up and because she was not focusing on her food but rather everything else around her, she ate much more than intended.