If You Bite it, Write it!
Did you know that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss? According to the results of a nearly 1,700 participant study published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those that kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. In fact, the lead author shares, “It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories”.
This year’s National Nutrition Month’s theme is “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle”. What better way to celebrate this idea than being more mindful of what, how much and how often we are taking those bites?
Make it easy on yourself and get the app!
Following the study’s suggestion of jotting down everything you eat and drink six days a week may sound a little overwhelming! However, seven years have passed since the article’s publication and we now have a variety of phone apps that can make keeping a food record a lot easier and even a little more fun! Last year, Healthline.com shared what they felt were the best weight loss iPhone & Android apps of the year. They included what device it is available on, whether it was free and how many stars each has been awarded based on user rating. Three that topped the list are:
MyFitnessPal: Free for both iPhone and Android users, this app has helped people successfully lose weight by incorporating both diet and exercise. This app includes access to a database of more than 3 million foods and tracks the calories that come from fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol. In addition to tracking your activity it also offers more than 350 cardio and strength training exercises so that you can enjoy variety and not get bored with the same daily routine.
Lose It! Is free for both devices. This app tries to simplify the “easier said than done” goal of burning off more calories than you take in by designing a personalized plan. Similar to MyFitnessPal, focus is on both diet and exercise with daily tracking of the calories consumed and the calories burned. What sets it apart from some of the others are the groups and one-on-one connect features that are intended to help you get support from friends and fellow users.
SparkPeople: SparkPeople is downloadable on both Android and IOS and is actually a network of sites that help you be healthier. It tracks your diet as well as your activities, and will break down everything you eat into nutrition information – so you can see things such as how much your suagr intake is, your total calories and if you’re getting your daily recommendation of vitamins. You can even scan the barcode of items at the grocery store to access a nutritional assessment of its healthfulness!
Although these apps can be a great way to kick-start a new diet and exercise goal or stay motivated and on track, they can’t do the work for you. To make changes that last, use these programs as tools to be incorporated into an overall healthy lifestyle. With or without the assistance of a smartphone, a healthy weight can be achieved with a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Try to limit intake of salt, saturated fats, and added sugars and avoid processed foods with trans fats.
For activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. You can even break up those 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions if you are strapped for time. If weight loss is something you are looking to achieve, keeping a daily record using a phone app may be just the help you’re looking for to “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle”.
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Photo credit: Walt Stoneburner