14 June 2016 «I lost 4 pounds in three weeks just by writing down what I ate and drank!»

Since my nutrition-consulting schedule was full, I had to make Bill’s appointment in three weeks. He wanted to lose weight and didn’t want to wait. Thus, I suggested that Bill write down everything he ate and drank each day on a piece of paper and show it to me in three weeks. He came to his appointment smiling. He had decreased his weight from 210 pounds to 206 pounds. He exclaimed, “I lost 4 pounds in 3 weeks just by writing it down.”

Research demonstrates time after time how tracking food and beverage intake helps one lose weight. Let’s look at the who, what, where when and why of food tracking. Challenge yourself this summer to track, even just for three days. You will gain insights into your eating patterns and portions which can help you see where you need to make changes.

Who, What, Where, When and Why of Food Tracking


1. People who want to lose, gain, or maintain their weight.

It can be challenging to continue to lose weight. Tracking can demonstrate “difficult times of day” for you personally. Many of my clients eat healthy balanced breakfast, lunches and suppers; however, it’s the afternoon from 2-4 pm, that they fall off the healthy bandwagon. Creating healthy planned snacks, which includes a protein and a fruit or vegetable, can help one resist food temptations.

2. People interested in finding out if they are allergic or intolerant to a certain food or food group.

By tracking, including writing down symptoms after eating certain foods, can provide a plethora of information for you and your doctor. If you go to a doctor for allergy testing, you will already know a lot about the timing of your symptoms after eating certain foods.

3. People who are emotional eaters.

By including your feelings when you track your food, you can analyze why and when you binge eat. Are you hungry or are you feeling lonely, excited, or bored? Look for patterns.


Two Ways to Track

1. Track your food intake online or using a mobile device using MyNetDiary.

2. Create your own paper tracker. At the top of a piece of paper, draw 5 columns and label them: time, food/beverage, portion size, feelings, and symptoms. Since we often eat differently on weekends, write down everything you eat and drink for at least two week days and one weekend day.

Time Food/Beverage Portion Size Feelings Symptoms

Where? When?

1. Ideally just before or after eating each meal or snack wherever you have eaten it (home, restaurant, car, etc.).

2. You can also logged planned meals in advance to help figure out what fits and if you can “afford” a snack or dessert.

3. Some people like to track everything at the end of the day but this is more prone to error. You will more likely underestimate intake if you wait many hours to log.


1. Increase awareness of portion sizes, especially beverages.
2. Increase honesty with yourself.

One client told me, “If I know I have to write it down, I often won’t eat it.”

By participating in the who, what, where when and why of food and beverage tracking, you too can join Bill’s success team and improve your health. Try tracking your food and beverage intake for at least 3 days. The longer you track, the more you can learn about yourself.

Take the summer tracking challenge, and you could change your health for life!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


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