Sure, you eat produce, proteins and whole grains but, according to British Journal of Nutrition findings, when you think about the quality of your diet, you’re likely forgetting about all the unhealthy food that also finds its way to your mouth, too.
To come to this finding, researchers from Japan and the UK asked a large group of people about their eating habits, took their measurements and had them step on a scale. After reviewing the data they realized there was no link between the participants’ reported diet and their rates of overweight and obesity. That’s when they decided it might be beneficial to take urine samples from the subjects, too. When they analyzed the samples for specific nutrients like salt, potassium and protein, the connection between the subjects’ eating habits and their weight was clear. This data disconnect showed that the participants were not able to accurately recall their daily eating habits.
People tend to exaggerate the good foods they eat and underestimate the bad stuff, says study author, Kentaro Murakami, PhD of Japan's University of Shiga Prefecture. While it’s not necessarily intentional, it’s likely one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to lose weight. For example, you might grab a handful of candy at a co-worker’s desk or a sample at the mall and then forget about it altogether. Although that might not seem important, all those little nibbles add up and can sabotage your weight loss goals—even if you’re careful about what you consume when you sit down to a proper meal.
Our advice: To get a more accurate overview of your diet, keep a detailed food journal on your phone—yes, that means you should include that food court sample, too. Whether you snap photos or keep a written log is totally up to you—both tactics will work. The more food records dieters kept over the course of 30 months, the more weight they lost, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found; and those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t journal. Sounds like a good enough reason to whip out the cellphone and start documenting to us! (That's just one of 6 Ways Your Phone Can Help You Lose Weight.)