Ruth's Blog

Keep a Food Diary – and Keep at it!

Great news was released on Monday confirming the success rate of using a simple self-monitoring device that dietitians have been recommending for years—the food diary.  A new study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research with 1700 participants found that those who kept a daily food record lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t keep records. The participants also followed a healthy eating regimen – the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) as well as engaging in 30 minutes of moderate activity per day. They also attended regular support meetings. Weight lost averaged 13 pounds during the 6-month period.  The study was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and will appear in the August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


As a registered dietitian, I have counseled hundreds of weight loss patients over the years and a key component to their success has always been the food and activity log. The idea of self-monitoring is not new – we know that written goals are more likely to be achieved—and writing down what you eat means you are more likely to succeed in decreasing food intake.


Diary Details

-Any method will do – notebook, spreadsheet or pre-printed booklet.

-High tech logs: On-line monitoring tools with automatic calorie calculations are an option for the computer crowd. Programs can also be downloaded on PDA’s. One of my favorites is, with an extensive database that’s regularly updated.  Google has a simple food tracking program on igoogle:

-Include a weekly goal for physical activity and jot down the type and minutes of activity with a minimum goal of 30 minutes 3 times per week.

-Keep at it – the more aware you are of your food intake and activity pattern, the more likely you will be to make positive changes.

-Calorie counting is one approach, another is to tally up servings of food groups and compare to a daily goal. Whatever the approach, the simple act of writing down food and beverage intakes throughout the day can have a major impact on results.

-A registered dietitian can help by individualizing food diary patterns and setting calorie and food group goals.


The study results are a reinforcement of the importance of becoming educated about what we eat and how those choices may impact our body weight and health. It’s good news that reinforces the message:  “Get writing and get results.” And for long-term results, keep at it!


Good health to you,



 Additional reading: Ways a Food Diary Can Help You Lose Weight  U.S. News & World Report










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Creative Commons LicenseThis blog by Lahmayer & Associates, Ltd. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Feel free to share, copy, distribute, display and transmit this work as long as you attribute the authorship to Ruth Lahmayer Chipps, link back to this webpage and avoid altering or building upon this work. (For non-commercial purposes only).

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