Food Diaries: Managing Diet and Budget

August 24, 2009

Food Diaries: Managing Diet and Budget

Penny-pinching Americans are struggling today to maintain balanced diets. In fact, Americans are spending less than 10% of their incomes on food, down from 18% in 1966, according to the USDA. In addition, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight and don’t seem to be getting any thinner. Recent studies show, in the last year, obesity rates have risen in almost half the states, and decreased in none. 

One of today’s challenges for retailers is assisting their shoppers in stretching their dollars while managing health and disease prevention. Many stores are now offering the services of a Supermarket Nutritionist to help guide consumers to feel like not only is their store offering value and good prices, but looking out for their health as well. There is one tried and true technique that studies have proven to work. 

Last year a study by Kaiser Permanente concluded that keeping a food diary doubles weight loss. "The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said lead author Jack Hollis Ph.D., a researcher at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories."

But weight loss is not the only benefit of keeping a food diary. 

Current dietary recommendations tell us to consume at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. However, many Americans and their families struggle to meet this minimum, sometimes because of a limited budget and sometimes just because we aren’t keeping track of what we consume on a daily basis. 

Numerous studies show that eating fruits and vegetables can lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. And other studies have shown that those who consumer more fruits and vegetables tend to get more exercise. 

The simple act of keeping a daily food diary of what one eats can be quite revealing. It can tell us what nutrients we aren’t getting enough of, keep track of calories and fat, point out sources of stress or environment that provoke overeating, or what foods result in energy slumps. In addition, diaries can assist in managing food budgets by showing us where money can be better spent on healthier items by cutting costs in other unhealthy areas. 

Retailers along with their nutritionists can win by encouraging their shoppers to take stock of what they are consuming daily and broadening their knowledge of how to find a healthy balance with budget and diet. 

For a SupermarketGuru FREE online Fat Diary, click here