Updated: August 26, 2011

"Studies show that self-monitoring, such as keeping a food journal or using an online log, is the most effective way to track your intake," says Michael B. Zemel, M.D., professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Tennessee. It can be as basic or as high-tech as you want. Three methods to try:

  1. Classic
    Write down everything you eat, plus the serving size, in a notebook. Add up calories using a guide such as The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter 2007 by Allan Borushek.
  2. Tech-savvy
    Use a software program such as Diet Power ($60; dietpower.com) or an online service like shape.com to track what you're eating and how much you're exercising.

  3. Multimedia
    Photograph your meals and snacks with your cell phone or digital camera. Set up an account and upload pics at nutrax.com ($8 a week). A dietitian will review them and offer tips for improvement.

Click here to purchase a food journal from Shape

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