When dieting, the course many of us take is to jump in with both feet and cut out certain foods or commit to specific diets. But making big plans without watching the individual steps can fail. After all, cutting out certain foods doesn’t work if you give yourself permission to eat unchecked amounts another. Many new studies have shown that diets are perhaps less effective than overall lifestyle changes. But how much are you actually changing your habits if you swap to the Mediterranean diet?
Because most of us misestimate what we eat, it can be hard to tell if we are sticking to our chosen diet. Thinking about a diet and focusing on what you’re doing can be a big help. In a massive study, with almost 1,700 participants, researchers saw that people who kept food diaries lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. The important thing when keeping a food diary is to gather more information than just what you ate and how much you ate. Where did you eat, who were you with, how were you feeling, how did you feel afterward, were you multitasking?
This additional information can be a goldmine. You might not usually notice that you eat more while watching TV or out to lunch with certain people. You may eat a lot of sugar late night without even thinking about it: M&Ms are tiny, so they could not register in your mind. Do you eat carb-heavy foods if you’re in a bad mood? Once you have gathered data, you can analyze it, seeing patterns that you can change!
You can make small changes, increasing your vegetable intake or lowering the number of times you order delivery meals. You can start bringing a snack if you know that you hit the vending machine every day. Or you might start turning off the TV before dinner to ensure you focus on your food and don’t overeat without thinking about it.
Another benefit of the food diary is one that we might not think of immediately. It can help you find out any food intolerances that you have. Maybe you’ve always thought you had a delicate stomach. But, a food diary can spot problems that you never linked to each other. If you find that every time you drink milk you feel ill a few hours later, you may be lactose intolerant. Or, you may realize that that odd evening slump you hit is related to eating something specific. By having it written down, it becomes easier to spot connections!
Let us know if you keep a food diary or if you intend to as part of a new habit! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.