Reuters recently, reported that according to a survey by US researchers, people who kept a food diary, lost twice the amount of weight as those who didn't.
So, how does a food diary work? Photographer Ajay Karanth tells us how his dairy helped him.
"I made a note of what I ate, everyday. This brought to light all the unnecessary snacking I did everyday. In time, I was able to completely stop snacks and sweets for six months, something I thought was not possible! Another important thing: it made me aware of portion sizes," he says.
"A food diary helps us keep track of how much we are consuming and it's healthy or not. It also helps us assess if our diet is balanced and includes all the food groups -- proteins, fats and carbohydrates," advices dietician and nutritionist, Naini Setalvad from Mumbai.
"The key: keep analysing yourself," adds Sushila Sharangdhar a dietician who has been practising for over 20 years. It helps you on a psychological level, too. According to Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, psychotherapist and soft skills trainer, it raises your consciousness and make you aware of what all you are consuming and why.
According to Ameeta, there's also a tendency of fasting and feasting among obese people. They tend to stick to a very strict diet, exercise regularly, initially, and then competely let go.
"You feel that since you have been very watchful you can afford to have a chocolate or a pizza. But then you may not know when to stop. A food diary helps you keep track of these patterns," she explains.
Set a date with yourself (the sooner, the better) and go buy yourself a dairy that defines you the most.
If most of your time is spent on your computer, simply create an excel sheet to record your eating habits. "The important thing is to keep a record of all that you eat; it could even be a scrap of paper. But make sure you are honest and keep a note of everything that you have eaten."
Keep a track of the following:
Here's a list of parameters. But if you really want to track your pattern, also add the mood and with whom you have eaten.
Specify exactly what you ate. "There's a difference between boiled potatoes and fries. So, it's important to be specific. Also, mention details like what kind of milk you are consuming, if you are having your tea with or without sugar, what your bhaji consist of, etc," says Anchal Achipalya, nutritionist from Talwalkar's Fitness Centre.
Has a food diary worked for you?
Another important thing to make a note of, according to Aanchal, is the amount of water you have had throughout the day. "Instead of making a note of every glass of water you've had, keep a big bottle with you and mark it."
Having one slice of pizza as compared to having an entire one makes a difference in the amount of weight you would put on. Hence do make a note of the amount of food that you had in terms of servings, spoons and glass.
Apart from eating right, it's important to eat at the right time, too. Make sure you do not skip the alloted timing.
Remember, mood has a major role to play with food. According to Ameeta, many a times you land up binging when you are sad or bored. "Even as a baby when you cried you were given food.
Food at that age itself gets associated with warmth, love and comfort especially in Indian culture where love is expressed with food. Another thing that happens when you are sad you feel a void inside of you. So you eat to fill that empty feeling inside."
Hence writing down your mood makes you aware if you are eating out of hunger or some other emotion. "Every time you reach for the food ask yourself why exactly you are eating the food. If it is due to some emotions there are other ways in which you can deal with them. You can even do a half-half method where you just eat a little and then do something relaxing such as watch television etc."
Once again are you eating because you are hungry or trying to please somebody? This tends to happen as Indian culture is huge on hospitality and you are always received with food. Sometimes you even land up eating to give somebody company.
"It's all about how you perceive it. Think of food and affection as two separate things, and not that you are denying the affection because you are denying the food," says Ameeta.
"Smile sweetly and decline the food, offered to you. Or call up in advance so that they don't end up cooking for you. This applies if you are accompanying someone, too."
To get a thorough idea of how your weight loss programme is going it would be wise to keep a track of your exercise routine as well, according to Sushila. In this manner you can check the ratio of your food and exercise and see how it is working for you.