You do the research, you buy the food, you make the plan, but somehow you look at your trash can at the end of the day and find empty junk-food wrappers. It happens to the best of us. Staying accountable to a diet is by far the hardest part. You know you should snack on almonds and apples over the vending machine offerings, but in the moment, the smart decision doesn’t always win out. However, science has discovered a trick to make healthy eating decisions stick.
Scroll down to find out what it is!
Keep a food diary. We knew, we know—groan. But before you stop reading, just know we’re not talking about your average food diary. While countless studies have proven that recording food intake is a highly effective weight-loss tactic, it’s 2015, and the pen-and-paper method has been surpassed by a smarter solution—a smarter solution that involves your smartphone. A recent study found that photographic food diaries are even more effective tools than their written counterparts. Taking photos is easier and quicker (meaning you’re more likely to stick with it), but researchers also discovered another benefit that didn’t carry over to the written diary group: Photo diaries are able to alter attitudes and behaviors associated with food decisions.
With written food diaries, you record your meals after you’ve eaten them. Researchers point to the timing involved with photo diaries as one of the reasons for the high success rate. Taking a photo before you start eating is more powerful—it stops you before you dig in and makes you evaluate your choice. Participants even said snapping a photo made them rethink snacking binges. Additionally, photos are a more accurate record of what you ate. When the researchers analyzed the differences between written and photo diaries, they found the former were not an accurate reflection of the portion that was consumed.
The real question becomes what to do with all of those food photos: Leave them to get lost in your camera roll and take up tons of storage on your phone? Never. Like most things in life, there’s an app for that. One of the most widely used is YouFood (free). It’s essentially Instagram for your food (with several other features, like recipe sharing and grocery lists). And just like with Instagram, if you don’t want everyone in the YouFood community viewing your food photo diary, you can make it private.
Other ways to protect yourself against a junk-food binge? Whenever you feel hungry, drink a full glass of water before you start eating (oftentimes we mistake hunger for thirst), chew gum between meals to decrease hunger, and try sniffing an essential oil designed to curb your appetite, like Archetypes’ Yield! Topical Pheromone ($50).
Have you ever kept a food diary? What about a photo diary? Share your experiences below!