If you're hoping to lose weight, a new study announced July 13 suggests that keeping an honest food journal can help you eat less.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle studied the eating behaviors of 123 overweight, previously inactive women for a year.
Women who kept food journals and consistently wrote down the foods they ate lost about six pounds (2.73 kilos) more than women who didn't.
Women who reported skipping meals lost almost eight fewer pounds (3.64 kilos) than women who did not, and those who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average five fewer pounds (2.27 kilos) than those who brought in their lunch.
Researcher Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, and her team wrote in the study, "Eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes."
Tips for creating your food journal:
• Write down what you're eating throughout the day, rather than saving it up to log at the end of the day. Also, jot down how you are feeling when you eat, and how what you eat makes you feel.
• Record your level of hunger along with the foods you eat.
• Be honest. Measure portions, read food labels, and write down both your slipups as well as your more virtuous meals.
The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
US dietician, physical trainer, and health expert Brittany Glassett, who wasn't involved in the study, also recommends a few other lifestyle changes to help lose weight: choose more fiber-packed whole grains, add more color to your plate (aim for three different colors), and don't drink your calories -- skip soda, juice, and high-calorie coffee drinks.