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Shed pounds by talking and writing

Jump-start weight loss without breaking a sweat: dietitian Alice Lindeman says talking and writing are two of the most important tools she shares with her patients.

Food Journal

Pen and paper can be your biggest allies in changing eating habits.

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Lindeman, who is a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University Bloomington, offers the following tips:

  • A vital step in changing eating patterns is finding someone you can talk with about the process. "The most important role I have had is to be someone patients can talk to about anything, no matter how private or embarrassing. I don't tell them what to eat, I help them solve their own issues," she said. A good friend or counselor can create a trusting environment in which to explore old habits and new dreams. "We don't just talk about the patterns that need to change. We talk about what joys you want to experience. What would losing weight allow you to do?" Whether you want to wear a beautiful new outfit, ride the roller coaster at a theme park or simply enjoy spending time with your grandchildren, Lindeman said, telling someone about that desire will help you make it happen.
  • Pen and paper can be your biggest allies in changing eating habits. Lindeman suggests making three lists of the foods you enjoy for pleasure. "Write down what you have to have, what you want to have, and what would be nice to have. Then commit to keeping the 'have to have' foods in your life by deciding when you can have small amounts of them," she said. You don't have to give up all the foods you love, but you do need a rational eating plan. Thinking ahead and acknowledging your desires can help fit pleasurable foods into a responsible strategy for weight loss. Writing can also help after the fact, Lindeman said. "A food diary is a wonderful tool. But you can't stop with just writing down what you eat. You have to go back and review it and look for patterns." She suggests using the diary to find out what triggers overeating. Are you waiting too long between meals? Skipping breakfast? Getting tired or frustrated during the day? By learning about your habits you can structure your plan to include healthy snacks that keep your energy up all day long.