A new study suggests that the simple act of keeping a food diary -- just writing down what you eat and when -- can help you with your diet, even doubling the number of pounds you lose. The reason given for fort the technique's effectiveness rings true with me:
"Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing. Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice. It's the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior," says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member. "Every day I hear patients say they can't lose weight. This study shows that most people can lose weight if they have the right tools and support. And food journaling in conjunction with a weight management program or class is the ideal combination of tools and support."
Simply writing things down makes you pay attention to whatever you're trying to make important. I've never had a PDA -- I write appointments down in the appropriate square of my wall calendar. If I don't write it there, the appointment doesn't exist; if I do, I don't have to refer to it -- I will usually remember it. Back in my reporting days, I usually took too many notes when I interviewed people, writing down single thing they said with a combination of terrible handwriting and made-up-on-the-spot shorthand. Half an hour later, I could barely read it. But the act of writing it all down made me remember what they said with remarkable clarity -- I could quote people verbatim without fear of being called up with a demand for a correction.
Post-it-notes, by the way, would make my list of all-time best inventions.