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Food Journals Can Help You Lose Weight, Study Reports

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Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Diet journal prototype - O5COM/FLICKR
As Speedo weather sweeps much of the country, dieters are using tweezers to eat, spending fortunes on salad bar creations and avoiding meals altogether in order to look dandy in beachside Facebook pics. However, new research shows that these last two measures (we can't speak for the tweezers) may not work so well. And that a notebook and a pen may join the jumprope and a bag of kale as good ways to lose weight.

Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spent a year examining the eating behaviors of 123 overweight women. Published in the newest issue of The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the findings reveal that the women who skipped meals and ate out at restaurants more frequently lost less weight than those who didn't.

According to the study, on average, women who skipped meals lost eight fewer pounds than women who did not. Women who ate lunch out once a week lost five fewer pounds than women who did not. Yet the kicker is that the participating women who kept daily journals dutifully chronicling their eating habits ("self-monitoring") ended up losing on average about six pounds more than the women who didn't.

We'd like to see the experiment evolve. Journals have that high-school-in-the-early-'90s appeal. You can decorate the cover with your favorite quotations. You can write little secret messages in code on the first pages that only you and your bestie can decipher. Yet they're so outdated and not nearly public enough for the post-blog set. Remember when online journals were personal and private? Today, journals take the form of frantic hourly Facebook status updates and Instagrammed photos of hang sessions that are posted before the hanging actually ends.

We'd like to read the research on the effect of social networking on diet and weight loss -- Facebook updates of meal descriptions three times a day, Instagrammed photos of everything consumed. Just a suggestion for next year.

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