During my first meeting with my nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge, she gave me a homework assignment: Keep a food journal. I have to start writing down everything I eat, including the time and place (as in 1 slice of whole wheat bread with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at 8 a.m. at the kitchen table). For the first week I'm supposed to eat like I normally do. Then Katherine will review my diet and suggest simple changes I can make.
Just the act of writing down every bite I take has helped me adjust my habits. Today I walked past a huge jar of pretzels at work, and while I would ordinarily grab a handful, I didn't because I knew I would have to make a note of it. So instead of having 12 pretzels in the hallway at 11 a.m. (and 10 more at 1:30 and 5 more at 3:15…), I had a carton of low-fat yogurt and a banana at my desk at 3 p.m. It's tough to eat mindlessly when you have to jot down every nibble—which is exactly the point.