Plate of LasagnaKeeping a food journal – a daily record of everything we eat – can be a great way to maintain a healthy weight while still eating foods we love.

Several studies have shown that a daily food journal promotes weight loss by increasing our awareness of what types of food, how much, when, and even why we are eating. Getting a clear picture of our diet patterns can help us get a grip on mindless eating and other bad habits.

A food journal makes us accountable to ourselves, which can prompt us to make more nutritious choices, reduce portion sizes and skip second helpings. As we’re focusing on healthier meals, we can also fit in a few treats we love – like popcorn, fat-free ice cream or an Uncle Wally’s Low Fat Muffin (our personal favorite).

What goes into a food journal? It can include the name of the food and the amount eaten, the time of day, our level of hunger and even how we felt emotionally before eating. Some people also like to track calories and exercise. A journal should be reviewed daily or weekly to show eating patterns (such as having too-large lunches after skipping breakfast, overeating late at night, overindulging at Sunday brunch, etc.).

The best journal method is whichever is easiest to maintain as a daily habit. Some good options: a small spiral notebook, a chart on the refrigerator, or smart-phone apps or web-based programs that let you track foods and calories.  A good tip: try to write in a food journal soon after eating (we tend to forget what we ate hours later). Click here for a printable food diary from the National Institutes of Health.

Also important to remember: Nobody is perfect. If you slip up and don’t write down a meal, or even skip a day or two, simply start up the food journal again.

 

     Uncle Wally’s new Low Fat Muffins are a delicious addition to any diet, and are a good source of protein and fiber. They come in seven flavors: Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate, Cranberry Orange, Banana, Honey Raisin and Corn. They are available at many fine stores, including King Kullen, A&P, Key Foods, Pathmark, IGA, Best Yet, Waldbaums, Meat Farms and Guinta’s.