Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dear Food Diary...



I just read an interesting column in the Washington Post about SparkPeople's ability to motivate dieters. For those unfamiliar with the web-based program, SparkPeople offers nutrition and fitness information, tools for tracking calories and physical activity and healthful recipes, as well as support for people trying to lose weight. I have actually visited the site and found it to be a useful resource, especially in terms of tracking daily calories. I also use CaloriesCount.com, which promotes a food diary, weekly weigh-in and a strong online support group via message boards.
So here's the deal...it doesn't matter if you keep a handwritten food diary or regularly visit a weight loss website like Calories Count, Weight Watchers or SparkPeople. The important thing is to maintain some sort of food journal because we often eat more than we realize. And when it comes to weight, every calorie counts. Research shows that it helps to write down all food and beverages consumed throughout the day to get an accurate picture of the number of calories you are consuming. From the bagel and banana at breakfast, to the salad dressing and roll with lunch and handful of mixed nuts before dinner, write down everything you consume. You may find that the calories really add up! A food journal can help uncover hidden calories, specify eating patterns, highlight problem areas and, essentially, increase the chances of weight loss success down the road. Since joining CaloriesCount, for example, I have lowered my cholesterol and found ways to better manage portion control. I have also found some great recipes that reduce calories. And because I follow a sugar-free diet, I also utilize calorie savings calculators like this one to help shrink the waistline. For example, did you know that switching from a regular 8-ounce cola to a sucralose-sweetened variation could save 100 calories each day - and result in a loss of up to 15 pounds throughout the year? And a blueberry muffin baked with sucralose can shave 80 calories from your daily intake. Not bad, ey? So use the online tools that you find, remembering that weight loss and physical fitness will not happen overnight and require a lifelong commitment.

More recipes with a sugar substitute.

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