If you’re trying to take off weight, buy a diary. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland have found that dieters who write down everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. The study involved 1,685 men and women whose average age was 55. The group was also about 44% African American, and included people from Oregon, Maryland, North Carolina and Louisiana. All of the participants were asked to eat more vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and to cut back on fats. They were also asked to exercise 180 minutes a weeks and attend group meetings. Some were also asked to keep a detailed food diary.

The group’s average weight loss was 13 pounds – but averages can be deceiving. Those not keeping a food diary lost about 9 pounds. Those who kept a food diary six or seven days a week lost about 18 pounds.

And you don’t have to go out and buy a leather-bound book for your diary. Dr. Keith Bachman, another of the researchers, says that it works just as well if you scribble down what you eat (including calorie counts) on a post-it note or send it to yourself in an email. The act of making a note and keeping track of calories helps you figure out where your extra calories are coming from and develop strategies to deal with them.


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