Nutrition bloggers have a strange habit. They like to take pictures of their meals and post them on their websites. But recent research has found that this might be giving them an unexpected benefit.

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests that the “Flash Diet” – having research subjects keep a photographic record of everything they ate – helped them lose weight. By taking photographs of their meals, the subjects were more likely to stick to their diets. Subjects who used food diaries instead were not as successful.

The researchers say that taking the photographs not only helped with calorie counting, but it seems that some subjects were motivated by the guilt of having photographic evidence of their bad choices. And it appears that others were motivated to improve their diets once they realized that the color green (and, therefore, green vegetables) was missing from their photos.

I’ve long believed that keeping food diaries and using sites like Fitday.com are helpful for men and women who want to lose weight. They’re very helpful in preventing overeating and mindless snacking before dinner. But it looks like the Flash Diet – actually taking photos of the food – is even MORE helpful.

All you need to do is snap a quick shot with your phone camera and you’ll get the benefits. If you combine this strategy with social support, you’ll take a huge step toward controlling your overeating. You could, for instance, post the photos to your blog, and post your meals and a link to the photos on a micro-blogging site such as Twitter. You’ll get support from others all over the world that will help you stay on track.

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Craig Ballantyne

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