SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a time-proven method to losing weight; the food journal. Registered dietitian with St. Mark's Hospital Megan Stanger says writing down every specific thing a person eats helps that person be more mindful of what they're putting in their mouths.
"For those people who like to snack and graze throughout the day, it's really hard for them to have a correct perspective of how much they snack and graze on if they're not writing it down," she says.
This can be especially helpful over the holidays. Stanger says many of us grab handfuls of candy or other treats left out by fellow employees. But many people tell Stanger the act of writing down everything they eat seems to take too much time out of the day. Fortunately, she says you don't need to find a scrap piece of paper every time you have a snack.
"If you have a camera on your phone, take a picture of what you eat and then, at the end of the day, you can go through the pictures and write down what it is," she suggests.
She says there's no perfect way of doing it. Stanger says the best way is whatever works for you. But you're not going to see the pounds fall off right away. She says it can sometimes take 30-45 days to form a new habit. So, she says anyone starting a food journal should stick with it for at least a few weeks.
"That's really how long it takes to incorporate it into your daily routine," she says.
Along with what you eat, Stanger says you can log how you feel when you overeat, and who you're with when you pig out. That way, you can identify patterns of how you're overeating.
"Even if it's not really helping you change your eating habits, keeping a food record can be the easiest first step in showing that you're ready to make some changes," she says.