How to Plan a Weight-loss Diet

plate of food wrapped in measuring tape
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For most people, it's hard to lose weight. Fad diets might offer a quick fix, but they're not usually the healthiest alternative.

Choosing a weight-loss plan is a bit like shopping for a pair of pants: The fit has to be comfortable, and the style has to mesh with your personality and lifestyle. Have you "tried on" any diet plans to see if they suit you?

If you can't find a weight-loss plan that fits you perfectly, you may do better with a custom fit. In fact, dieters who personalize their weight-loss programs are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. But you'll need to tailor more than just the diet itself. Dieters who develop their own social support systems, personal coping strategies, and physical activity plans are most likely to win at losing.

Put It In Writing

The first thing you need to do is raise your awareness of what you actually eat. The best way to do that is to log the foods you eat every day in a food journal. A food journal will dispel any illusions you may have about your eating habits, and it will make you more conscious of what you're eating when you're eating it. That consciousness may be enough to change some of your eating behaviors. You may be less likely to scarf down that doughnut on your way to work or snack while reading because you'll be recording those foods. Using a food journal is also a great way to monitor your portions and track your progress to see if you're moving toward your goals.

There's no question that emotions play a big role in when, where, and how much you eat. A food journal can also help you identify how emotions affect your eating habits, and that's the first step to taking control. Just write down how you're feeling when you eat and where you happen to be (in front of the television, standing at the kitchen counter) in the journal. And rate how hungry you are on a scale of one to five, with one being the least hungry. All these bits of information are part of your personal diet puzzle.

Buy a small notebook or a planner especially made for food journaling that you can carry with you at all times. Every time you eat something, record the following information in your journal:

  • Time
  • Food eaten and portion size (use the portion chart to estimate your portion size)
  • Hunger rating before eating
  • Your mood
  • Who you're eating with
  • Where you're eating
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You may also want to keep track of the calories you consume each time you eat. When you tally the number of calories at the end of each day, you'll know how close you've come to the goal you set for your daily calorie intake. After keeping your food journal for a week or so, take some time to examine your records. Look for patterns in your eating behaviors. Do you see any problem areas? Can you identify certain situations or emotions that caused you to overeat or to make poor choices? Are you getting enough servings from all the food groups? Use this information to do some problem solving. Keep up the food journal, and review it periodically to assess how you're doing and how you can fine-tune your diet.


This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.