LatinaLista — Ever since the day after Thanksgiving, visions of tables covered with tamales, turkeys, hams, mole, buñuelos, churros, rompope, galletas, etc have been on the minds of just about everyone and anyone who associates Christmas with these traditional favorites.
Unfortunately, most people also associate gaining weight during Christmas too and making the usual promise of starting the New Year diet, only to quit. But one weight management specialist says that there is one sure way to stay on course for losing those extra holiday pounds — write it down!
“Keeping a food diary is like exercise, it will always help you lose if you do it consistently,” says Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic, a licensed clinical psychologist and registered dietitian who trained at Duke University’s famed weight loss clinic. More importantly, the writing habit “is one of the top predictors of weight loss success.”
Journaling about what you eat is like behavior therapy according to Dr. Mosunic who counsels many diabetic patients.
“I can split my patients into two groups. The food diary keepers and the non-keepers,” says Dr. Mosunic. “The people who keep diaries are usually very successful and I work with them for about 12 weeks. The people who don’t are people I sometimes see for years.” In terms of the diary keepers’ success he explains, “It’s not much different than taking notes in class. The more your write, the better you perform.”
Dr. Mosunic believes that when people see what they are actually eating during the course of a day and how much of it, they begin to modify their own diets. While he believes that any kind of food journaling should be done while working with a doctor, he has some basic tips to make the exercise successful:
Keep it simple: “One of the worst mistakes I see my patients make is using these complex, computerized Internet-based programs,” he says. The best journals are easy to keep and understand. Some of the most straightforward computer-based programs can be found at Livestrong.com and Dailyplate.com. Dr. Mosunic keeps his own journals on Microsoft Word documents.
Write everything down: “Even the handful of chips or pretzels,” says Mosunic. “It’s part of the practice of just being responsible for what you consume.”
Share your journal: “It’s always best to have someone who reads it,” says Mosunic, noting some of his favorite food diaries have “junk food all over the pages.” The reason? “I know the patients are being honest!”
With Type 2 diabetes rising among Latinas and Latinos, losing weight means the difference between having a good or poor quality of life. Insulin shots, heart disease and other byproducts of being overweight are high prices to pay for doing something as simple as watching what we eat.