It might seem a bit over the top, writing down every calorie you consume. It might frustrate you, or seem unnecessary, having to reach for your notebook each time you nibble. Believe me, this could be your best weight loss move yet. Numerous studies have shown that those who keep a daily food diary are more successful in their weight loss than those who note their food intake once a week, if at all.
I am a massive fan of keeping a food diary. I am not talking about a narrative on what you ate — "I had pizza for dinner, yummy but the base could have been crisper". What I am talking about is keeping a record of anything that passes your lips each day, be it part of a main meal, a snack, or your perk-me-up coffee or wind-down wine. Write as you go, noting portion size, and all the trimmings like dressings, gravies, sides, etc.
You don't have to do this forever. I find that keeping a diary for at least a month can really show you where the calories are sneaking in, and giving you a realistic idea of what exactly you are eating. Remember, EVERYONE underestimates their daily calorie intake, and it's easy to have a good week, so doing this for at least a month provides you with a far more accurate picture.
However, it is so important to be honest with yourself. Don't dismiss something because you think it won't make a difference — finishing the kids' dinner does add up, as do little things like picking at a bag of sweets throughout the day. Yes, you are eating them one at a time at intervals, and they might only be 10 calories a go, but a whole bag can add up to hundreds of calories and skew your weight loss.
Why do this? The reasons (and benefits) are manifold.
First, everyone eats a lot more than they think. Ever had diet frustration, where you thought you were doing everything right, and the pounds weren't melting off? Yes, you were eating healthy salads, and no, there was no chocolate involved. However, were you piling dressing on those salads? Were there croutons involved or cheese? Was the salad meant for three people, but you were polishing it off as a starter??