Of 1,700 Kaiser Permanente study participants who took the extra step of keeping track of what they consumed got something of a booster charge in their weight loss.
Overall, two-thirds of the study subjects lost nine pounds or more during the six-month study. But those who kept a food diary every day of the week dropped up to 20 pounds, more than twice as much as those who didn't record their every bite.
Dieters don't want to write it down
One dieter commented, "If I was walking through the kitchen and wanted to grab a cookie or a brownie, I would think twice because I knew I had to write it down.” That was a common experience among those who kept diaries. Study participants said, for example, that when they thought about eating a second helping of dessert but didn’t because they didn’t want to see it in their food diaries.
“A lot of times people do not think about what they are eating or eat out of stress. Keeping a diary can help to avoid these practices. Another participant claimed that keeping a food diary made it easier to maintain weight loss than previous efforts using diets that she did on her own.
For some, it is a struggle to maintain food diaries; keeping track of what you eat can pose a challenge for dieters. Lora Burke, a professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, noted in an unpublished study involving food diaries, some participants said it was too burdensome to record what they ate. These participants experienced less weight loss than those who kept diaries.
Thanks to MSNBC and to Steve Mitchell for publishing various studies tracking dieters and food diaries. Steve is a science and medicine writer in Washington, D.C. His articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers, magazines and Web sites, including UPI, Reuters Health, The Scientist and WebMD.