Lose weight using a food diary

August 12, 2008 5:05:30 PM PDT
Did you know that by simply writing down what you eat in any given day can greatly increase weight loss? Kaiser Permanente registered dietician Nora Norback suggests keeping a food diary.

Guidelines for keeping a food diary

  • Even before starting a new diet or eating plan, for two weeks, write down everything you eat, no matter what, so you can see what you're consuming. From there, it's advisable to cut 500 calories a day, which equates to one pound a week. And that's just an adjustment to diet, not taking into account exercise.

  • Types of Diaries. There are many types of food diaries -- Hard copies, small notebooks, moleskine books, white boards hanging in the kitchen at home, online programs available to support people in journaling their intake, excel spread sheets, or even text messaging. Even a post-it note will work, since it's the act of writing it down that makes the difference.

  • Accountability is key; many people choose to go beyond writing down what they eat and share that info with their spouses or family members, finding that makes them even more likely to stick to their eating plan.

  • Most important: Be honest with yourself. It doesn't work otherwise.

    Advice/tips for weight loss

  • Reduce calorie intake and adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat or non-fat dairy, such as a DASH (a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

  • The biggest bang for your buck in terms of cutting calories? Cut out empty calories - food or drink with no nutritional value (soda, etc.)

  • Pay attention to portion control.

  • Focus on lifestyle changes you can sustain

  • Set specific, realistic goals you can meet

  • Seek encouragement from family, friends and co-workers to support your healthy choices

  • Stay focused on your original motivation and the health benefits of weight loss

  • Join a class or support group to help you with all of the above

    (Some weight loss tips compiled by Dr. Keith Bachman, Internal Medicine physician and Clinical Lead of Kaiser Permanente's Care Management Institute Weight Management Initiative, which provides KP clinicians with weight loss tools for their patients.)

    About Nora Norback
    A registered dietitian since 1992, Nora Norback is an out-patient health care provider at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond, California. Helping people manage conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, she encourages building a healthy relationship with food. Advocating a compassionate approach to weight and health, she contributed to Yale University and Kaiser Permanente's toolkit Helping Without Harming in Clinical Practice. Active in the community, she helped initiate a farm stand project in Richmond, worked with the YMCA on obesity in children, and presented internationally on Kaiser Permanente's Healthy Eating Active Living initiative. Ms. Norback completed her Master's in Public Health Nutrition at the University of California at Berkeley. She has taught nutrition at City College of San Francisco, as well as at UC Berkeley. network


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