I was listening to a radio program the other day and the host was interviewing a psychologist. They were discussing habits and techniques people can use to make changes to their habits, for the better.

This is not a subject that is totally new to me, after all, I am a psychologist and I’ve worked with many many people suffering from addictions. I’ve also spent a lot of time struggling with my own food addiction.

In the program the psychologist stated that study after study show that the best way to lose weight isn’t a particular diet, but rather, it’s the practice of keeping a food log or journal. His argument was that by writing down what you eat you change the habits around eating which in turn forcibly change how and what you eat, usually resulting in losing weight.

My first response was to chime in with my own hearty “yes”. In the past 9 months of my weight loss and maintenance I have kept a food log everyday. It helps in both known and unknown ways.

At the same time, I’m also reminded of a conversation I had with my husband a long time ago when he asked me about what diets “worked” for me. We got into a discussion of what it means for a diet to “work”. I acknowledged that every diet I’d ever been on had “worked” for a time in so far as it helped me to lose weight for a while. However, no diet had ever “worked” for me in the sense that each was time limited and when I eventually broke the diet (usually out of an inability to continue) I gained back all the lost weight.

What I’ve been doing for the past 9 months has resulted in weight loss for me. More importantly it has resulted in an emotional stability and sanity for me. Most importantly, I have learned that this way that I have been eating, isn’t a “diet” in terms of a way of eating for a finite period of time in order to lose weight. No, this is a “diet” for me in terms of this is my food plan, how I eat, by the more general definition of the word.

Yes, keeping a food log probably did help and continues to help me immeasurably. But had I been on “low-fat high-carb diet”  no food log could have kept me on track. I know. I’ve done that. Most recently, in the fall of 2011. For 7 weeks. I kept a daily food journal. I lost about 10 pounds. I fell off the wagon, never went back, and bounced back up the scale 20 pounds.

Finding out what my normal diet should be was what was truly essential to my success.

That said, I’m still keeping the food journal.

It really does help.