Count calories using food journal


The best weight-loss book might be the one you write yourself.

Keeping a food journal is one of the keys to success for many people who have lost weight and maintained their healthy lifestyles, research shows.

"It helps them to see where their downfalls are and the times that they eat more," says Diane Greenleaf, a registered dietitian in Wichita, Kan.

Knowledge is power when it comes to weight loss. Recording everything you eat and learning proper portion sizes and calorie counts helps you stay on track.

Journaling doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. For many people, it only takes about 15 minutes per day, experts say.

You don't want to drag around a notebook and a calorie counter? That's no excuse. Many Web sites and software programs offer options for dieters who want to calculate their calories with the click of a button.

Becky Hand is a registered dietitian at, a diet and fitness Web site. She says food journals point out trouble spots that can sabotage weight-loss efforts.

People often aren't aware of how much they're eating, says Connie Niederauer, a clinical dietitian in Wichita.

"Yesterday I was at a health food store," she says. "They had a sample out, and I tried one of the samples and it was the best little thing, but two little bites was 110 calories. So if you're walking around the store and they have samples sitting everywhere, it's those things that really add up."

That's why it's important to note everything you eat and drink -- even the nibbles and sips.

When the scale is stuck or your jeans are getting snug, your food journal gives you a blueprint for how to make changes.

Look back and see whether your portions are too big, Greenleaf says.

You don't have to maintain a food journal forever, experts say. But it can be a very useful tool to keep the numbers on the scale moving in the right direction.


Write it down right away. Dietitian Diane Greenleaf recommends that you carry a small notebook and jot a quick note after each meal and snack instead of waiting until evening to try to recall every bite you ate that day. Your journal will be more accurate this way.

Record your feelings along with when you eat. If there's a weak time of day for you, look for ways to distract yourself from eating at that time.

Measure servings. "You may think you're eating one serving, but if you didn't weigh and measure it, it could be two to three times that amount," says dietitian Becky Hand.

Spread your calories out. Skipping breakfast to save calories for later often leads to overeating.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.