According to a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and reported in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine," people who tracked what they ate in a food diary for a span of at least five days a week lost almost twice as much weight as those dieters who didn't use a journal.
What do you do with the information you get from keeping a food journal? A few things -- it all depends on your family's needs.
The big takeaway is that you learn your family's eating habits (what, when and how often), and with that, you can change all sorts of things. Your journal may show you how much processed food your family is eating, leading you to shop from a more healthy grocery list. Or, maybe your journal cues you in to how often your family eats home-cooked meals versus restaurant fare, or how much fast food your kids (or you) really consume. Portion control is also important, and with the help of the data in your food journal, perhaps you'll see that while your family eats mostly healthy foods, it eats too much of it. Remember -- eat too many calories in relation to how active you are, regardless of whether those calories come from a Twinkie or tempeh, and you'll gain weight.
It can take as many as three to six weeks to get used to changes and make them stick, so keep it up and you'll find that in about a month, you've changed your habits.