During the holiday season, it’s easy to pay less attention to what you eat and drink.
Distracted, unconscious eating and drinking can add plenty of extra calories every day.
Grabbing a quick meal while shopping and eating lots of tasty treats at holiday parties can add up to a surprising number on your scale in January.
So what’s the first step? The most effective method for controlling your weight is writing down all that you eat and drink before you consume it, recommends the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
Yes, it is not easy, but it is effective. Research has shown that people who do this consistently have the best weight control.
Just keep track of your food and drink in a small notebook in your pocket, purse or backpack. It’s OK to use abbreviations to log in the items.
It’s the act of thinking about and writing down what you consume that matters. Just be honest about portion sizes and amounts. You don’t have to share this with anyone.
What if you don’t want to document every meal? Then think about when you are more likely to overindulge.
If you do well at breakfast and lunch, but eat a huge dinner and snack all evening, then maybe you only need to write down what you eat after 5 p.m., UGA Cooperative Extension recommends.
Just remember, the more often you document your intake, the more successful you’ll be.
There also are some free apps for smartphones to help you keep track. Here are a few recommended in “Food and Nutrition,” a publication from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitness Pal: Set and adjust calorie goals, enter food and activity, add food to the dataset and check your weight loss on a progress screen. Provides extensive nutritional analysis of your food and lets you adjust your meal plan to meet specific nutrient needs.
- Calorie Counter: Diets & Activities by Arawella: Electronic food diary tracks your calories, fats, carbohydrate, protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, fiber, water, exercise, and eating times.
- Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by CalorieCount.com: You can enter food and exercise and track your weight changes. Nutrient analysis lists all the nutrients on the nutrition facts label. Also provides healthy recipes and articles.
- Sparkpeople Diet and Fitness Tracker by Spark People: Tracks only calories, fat, carbohydrate and protein of the food you enter. Customizes meal plans for personal weight control goals and graphs weight changes over time.
- Calorie Tracker by Livestrong.com: Provides a food and exercise diary with a large food database. Diet is analyzed for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, sugar, fiber and protein.
If you aren’t sure logging your food and beverage intake is right for you, try it for just two weeks and review the results.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290. Her column appears Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.