Keeping track of what you eat and drink provides invaluable weight-management help.

August 15, 2008

Do you really know how much you eat in a day? You might betempted to say yes. But the difference between what you thinkyou're eating and what you actually consume can be significant.

Which is why food journals are an important tool for helpingpeople track and better understand their eating habits. A study inthe Journal of the American Dietetic Association concluded thatfood journals are a better predictor of weight loss than body massindex, age, and exercise level. "They can really help peopleidentify whether they're eating as a diversion, as a way to satisfyan emotional need, or because they're hungry," says Lola O'Rourke,M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Awritten record helps dieters identify bad eating habits -- and takeaction to change them.

Whether your journal is a spiral notebook or a computer program,the key is to record what you eat, the number of calories itcontains, and any physical exercise you do. Since memory is notalways reliable, experts recommend jotting down notes immediatelyafter each meal or snack. Remember that every sip also counts; whenit comes to calories, even liquids count.

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