Even if you think you’re eating clean, exercising regularly, and limiting your cheat days, dieting can go awry if the number on your scale isn’t budging. Chalk it up to the old adage, mind over matter — meaning, in order to reap results, we must become more in tune with our thoughts, choices, and habits.
Thankfully, there’s an easy, science-backed way to do just that: food journaling.
In a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers discovered that among 1,700 people, those who wrote in their journal daily lost double the weight than those who didn’t. What’s more, a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that, out of 439 women, those who jotted in their journals lost approximately 13 percent of their starting body weight while the non-journalers lost only 8 percent.
If journaling on the reg seems daunting, don’t write it off just yet! Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN, nutritionist, and author of Schedule Me Skinny, has a few tips to help you crush those entries. “Keep a food journal for a few days without changing your eating habits, and then start trying to eat clean and keep a journal doing that for a few days,” she advises. “Instead of focusing on calorie count on these days, simply write down what you ate and any notes about how you feel each day. You may notice a big difference in things like energy level and mood when you start eating clean.”
In fact, dieters who keep journals are more aware of what influences their food choices, how much they’re actually eating, and how they feel post-meals. Not to mention, reviewing your choices after each day can help hold you accountable for adding cheese to that burger at lunch or grabbing a Snickers bar in between meals. Need some motivation to rid the writer’s block and get started? Check out these 50 Inspirational Success Quotes That Will Energize Your Days.