It is well-known in the weight loss world that one of the best things you can do is keep a food diary.  As a writer, I understand all too well, the power of pen on paper.  Something profound happens with that direct link between the brain and the ink.  I’m sure there is some science behind it.

Writing down what you eat keeps you on track.  Even if you are not ready to start changing the way you eat, start tracking.  When you eat it, write it down.  Some recommend you write the time, place, and what you were feeling.  That’s a fine idea.  But, if you are diet daunted, keep it simple.

There is a great book from the folks who publish the Eating Well magazine, espousing a weight loss program they call VTrim™.  It is good stuff.  Very helpful and full of tips and tools and even recipes.  This is what they say about keeping a food diary.

Being more self-aware helps tip you off to behaviors (and calories) that contribute to weight gain, and helps you break bad habits.  By writing something down, you become accountable for it, you have evidence of your behavior.  That in itself is incredibly motivating for most people.  It’s not just about changing your food choices, it’s about recognizing the behaviors that lead to problem food choices.

You will be amazed what happens.  You see just what you’ve ingested.  You may think you have pigged out beyond all comprehension, but when you write it, you see, hey, that’s not that bad.

As I have shared here, I am now on maintenance, working to keep my weight steady.  I’ll be honest:  it is difficult.  I’ve stripped myself down to basic stuff.  Why I eat.  What drives me.  Am I hungry?  That’s tough stuff.

The other day, I entered that Gateway to a Binge.  It felt like I went crazy as I hit the street on a pigout forage.  I wanted a ginger cookie from a nearby bakery.  I walked through Greenwich Village to get that cookie.  When I got there, they weren’t selling ginger cookies.  “We like to mix it up,” they tell me.  Did that stop me?  Of course not.  I went for the oatmeal raisin cookie.   And, a peanut butter cookie.  We’re not talking normal size cookies here.  These were flying saucer discs of wonderfulness.  But, think about it, I started with a desire for the ginger cookie.  I wasn’t done.  I headed to the donut shop across from my apartment and bought a couple of cake donuts.  Came home.  Ate them.  Felt defeated.  Piggish.  Oink oink!  And, of course, extremely stuffed.

Several hours later, I shook myself out of my stupor.  I wrote down what I ate.  When I looked at it on paper, I saw two cookies.  Two donuts.  Now, that is just not that bad.  I gave myself a gentle pep talk.  Sympathized with myself (why don’t we treat ourselves as well as we treat our friends?  But that’s fodder for another entry).

Writing it down stopped me.  Such a simple task.  With monumental results.

If you don’t have a journal that you like for this task, there are tons of resources online.  A simple google for weight loss journals brought me several entries — I liked these suggestions from a website for women called bellaonline.

Buy a simple book at the drugstore.  Splurge on a beautifully bound leather book from Venice.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Just a piece of paper and a pen will suffice.

It works.