Journaling your way to lower cancer risk
By Clay Holtzman, Hutchinson Center science writer
One of the best things you can do to reduce your cancer risk is to lose weight. But losing it and keeping it off isn’t easy. Here’s a new research-based tip that can help: record everything you eat. Be honest, be accurate and be consistent.
A new study by a leading cancer prevention expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center finds that by keeping a daily food journal, women age 50-75 were able to reduce their calorie consumption, the most important factor in losing weight. The findings can have a broad impact for society beyond the study’s population.
“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating,” Dr. Anne McTiernan said.
McTiernan said a food journal helps you be accountable to yourself. Once you know how many calories you consume, the easier it is to limit your consumption and ultimately lose weight.
The study, published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also discovered that eating every meal and avoiding eating out – especially for lunch – also help promote weight loss.
McTiernan said a food journal doesn’t have to be complicated or high tech, although there are computer programs and smartphone apps that can do much of the work for you. The key, she said, is to:
- Be honest – record everything you eat
- Be accurate – measure portions, read labels
- Be complete – include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of any toppings or condiments
- Be consistent – always carry your food diary with you or use a diet-tracking application on your smart phone
McTiernan, a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, studies weight loss and exercise as cancer prevention strategies. Learn more about some of her practical and beneficial research: