Are You Writing Down What You Eat?

The post originally appeared on Dr. Jennifer Gunter’s blog, and she’s kind enough to share it here…

I lost 45 lbs this year and I did it by following evidence based medicine.

The #1 thing that I did was commit to weight loss journaling….writing every morsel down that goes into my mouth (helping me stick to my 1,500 calorie a day allotment that I needed to eat to lose weight at a safe rate). Studies tell us that people who journal every day lose twice as much weight as people who don’t.

One of the most important points about journaling is a defense against what we dieters call “bad” days. We shouldn’t be pejorative like that, but many people who are overweight have a black and white view of food intake (I did anyway). What I mean by that is, if the day is shot (e.g. I broke the bank by eating 4 slices of pizza or a piece of apple pie), well, in for a penny in for a pound and it dissolves into a belly-up-to-the-trough kind of day.

But journaling, I have found, can help even when you hit a rough patch….let me rephrase, especially when you hit a rough patch. It’s like a rip cord for your back up parachute. Because stopping to write things down helps you realize that

A) The situation may not be as dire as what you have worked out in your head


B) Honesty about what you eat is essential. Because if you are over weight (like I was) you probably lied to yourself about it, “I’m not that fat,” or “I’ve tried journaling/everything and it doesn’t work.” These are the lies that keep us from losing the weight and trust me, you haven’t really tried journaling until you have honestly weighed and measured every scrap that goes into you mouth, written it down, and stuck to your daily calorie allotment.

Which brings me back to the holidays. Last week was a challenge for me. I only stuck to my maintenance calories (2,000/day) 2 of the 7 days. But I journaled. Every day. Even when it wasn’t pretty. Looking back, I realize it wasn’t the horror that I had concocted in my out of control imagination. And when I really wanted that desert on Friday, I looked at my journal and didn’t. And while it didn’t stop me from eating the 3rd piece of pizza on Saturday it did stop me from eating the 4th (and stopping my descent into pizza madness is no mean feat).

It worked for me and it will work for you. It is as much about being honest and accountable to yourself as it is about the calories. And the only thing you have to lose is the weight.

This blog post was written by Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain medicine physician. She authored the book,The Preemie Primer, a guide for parents of premature babies.

In addition to academic publications, her writing has appeared in USA Today, the A Cup of Comfort series,,, Exceptional Parent, Parents Press, Sacramento Parent, and the Marin Independent Journal.

You can follow Dr. Jennifer on Twitter, too.

Dr Terry Simpson About Dr Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, a renowned weight loss surgeon, is a leading advocate of culinary medicine. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit