LEE ANNE GRACE: Writing down what you eat can have positive effect on weight loss

Keeping a food log can be a very effective tool in promoting and sustaining long-term weight loss.
A 2008 study sponsored by the National Institute of Health concluded that participants who kept a record of what they ate using an on-line food log doubled the amount of weight lost compared to participants who didn’t keep a food log. Additionally, the more frequently and accurately the participants logged the food they consumed, the more successful they were not only at losing weight, but keeping it off.
My own personal experience confirms what the NIH study demonstrated. I have learned for me to remain at a healthy weight, keeping a food log will have to continue to be a part of my daily routine. Several months ago I became overconfident and thought I had shed my past food addiction. I stopped keeping a food log, but continued to make what I thought were reasonably healthy food choices. That short venture into biting without writing was a wakeup call for me. The pounds started creeping back on. After the panic of envisioning 166 pounds rematerializing on my body subsided, I admitted that I didn’t have “this eating thing down” after all. I resumed keeping a food log, and my weight gradually returned to a range that was optimal for me.
Getting started with an online food log is very easy and inexpensive. You will answer a few questions about your age, gender, height, weight and level of activity. The program will then set a daily calorie intake target set just for you and your needs.
Most of my favorite online food log sites have free downloadable phone applications so you can log your food while on the go.
Internet access is not necessary to keep a food log. Writing down daily caloric consumption in a notebook has been used successfully for many years before technology became readily accessible.
Consistent, honest food logging is essential to long-term success. Remember, if you bite it, write it. That includes the small tastes made while cooking and that handful of M&Ms taken from the candy jar. Log what you drink as well. The calories in drinks such as Coke and Sprite can really add up quickly. Three 12-ounce cans of Coke a day equal an extra 2,940 calories per week.
In addition to not logging nibbles and bites taken throughout the day, weekend eating can also be a stumbling block. A week’s worth of healthy intentions can be wiped out by mindless eating on Saturday and Sunday. The strategy of food log-free weekends works for some weight loss maintainers, but I’m not among them.
Keeping a log has unquestionably been a major factor in my weight loss maintenance. I still struggle with food issues. Put a plate of homemade cookies in front of me and I’m good as long as I don’t take the first bite. One bite and I’m a goner – and so is the entire plate of cookies. It’s very humbling to log the calories contained in a dozen Nestle toll house cookies, which I’ve actually had to do. For those who are interested, a dozen medium-size homemade chocolate chip cookies have 2,160 calories, and after the first two, they didn’t taste that good, anyway.
Take the first step today. Get online and explore some of the food log websites and select one that fits your needs. Once you’ve selected an online site, or committed to keeping a written food log, stay consistent and honest with yourself. Weigh and measure everything, at least for the first month or so. I’ll be logging along with you.
I strive to take one day at a time, staying focused on the day I’m blessed to be living in. For today, I have promised to make healthy food choices that are right for me.
Please join me in the journey to better health. Take baby steps, and enjoy the journey.

Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for two years. She continues overhauling her eating, fitness, mental and spiritual well-being, and still considers herself a “work in progress.” She is passionate about helping others who struggle with the same issues she does. She is the proud mother of two teenage daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.

Favorite online food log sites
– www.sparkpeople.com
– www.myfitnesspal.com
– www.fitday.com
– www.thedailyplate.com D

Lee Anne Grace