The 3 Week Diet

Study Confirms 3 Weight Loss Tips: Food Journal, Don’t Skip Meals, Don’t Eat Out


A new study is out, confirming some of the tried and true weight loss tips that help us to become more mindful of our eating habits.

Regardless of the diet you choose to follow, controlling weight — whether to lose it, to maintain it, or even to gain it — comes down to a matter of self-discipline. Yes, the kinds of foods we eat are significant and some diets work better than others — I’ve shared my longtime experience with a whole foods plant-based diet (McDougall plan) that has given me effortless weight management. But we are all faced with the same challenges; we are in a food saturated culture where food — much of it quite unhealthy and calorie laded — is everywhere! This can lead to a lot of mindless eating. So that’s where the food journal or food diary comes in. Just as you have to budget your discretionary spending or risk overdrawing a checking account or going over a credit card limit, so too, those extra “just one bite” and “everything in moderation” rationalizations of too many high calorie indulgent foods add up.

Here are the details of the study which is published in the ‘Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’; researchers — Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues — tracked for one-year 123 “sedentary postmenopausal women aged 50 to 75” who were given one of two weight-loss plans to follow: a calorie-restricted diet or a calorie-restricted diet with exercise.

From the researchers:

Specifically, McTiernan and colleagues found that:

Women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not

Women who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 fewer pounds than women who did not

Women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently (eating out often at all meal times was associated with less weight loss, but the strongest association was observed with lunch)

“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating,” said McTiernan, director of the Hutchinson Center’s Prevention Center and a member of its Public Health Sciences Division.

Study participants were given the following tips for keeping a food journal:

Be honest – record everything you eat
Be accurate – measure portions, read labels
Be complete – include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of any toppings or condiments
Be consistent – always carry your food diary with you or use a diet-tracking application on your smart phone

“While the study provided a printed booklet for the women to record their food and beverage consumption, a food journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy,” McTiernan said. “Any notebook or pad of paper that is easily carried or an online program that can be accessed any time through a smart phone or tablet should work fine.”

You can read the full summary of findings here.

There are so many benefits to this approach as it helps us to be accountable for our habits, and we can identify patterns of emotional eating, if any. I found that I never had any long-term success with weight loss until I kept a food diary, and diligently recorded everything, as researchers recommend. It just plain works so long as the food diary is not a work of fiction! As for eating out, well, we all know — or perhaps try to avoid knowing! — the high calorie count of many restaurant entrees which are using far more fat, sugar and salt than we might use in our own kitchens. The most recent Xtreme Eating Awards, which is the kind of list a restaurant doesn’t want to be on, can be seen here is just a reminder of what kind of caloric minefield awaits us!

Skinny Bliss readers, have you ever used any of these tips for weight loss? Have you got any tips and tricks that have helped you become successful in losing and/or maintaining? Let us know!

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