Weekly challenge: keep a food diary to lose excess weight

If you’re looking to lose weight, forget about skipping meals, and pick up a pen and paper. Keeping a daily food journal can lead to an average weight loss of more than 10 percent over the course of a year, according to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle that was published Monday.

The study, involving 123 overweight women who were put on a calorie-restricted diet, found that those who wrote down everything they ate lost more weight over the course of the year than those who didn’t consistently keep food journals.

“It’s about accountability, knowing what you’re eating and how much, and how that all adds up compared with your calorie goal for losing weight,” study leader Dr. Anne McTiernan told WebMD.

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What’s interesting is that study participants who tried to wing it—skipping meals regularly to compensate for overeating—lost an average of eight fewer pounds over the year than those who religiously wrote down every bit of food consumed. Those who ate lunch in restaurants at least once a week lost an average of five fewer pounds over the course of the year than those who stuck with meals prepared at home.