Dear Diary, I had a Ding Dong

Planet Paige, July 20, 2008


All over the Thames, with one’s face in the wind, you were almost burned with a shower of firedrops.

—Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1666


Yes, Barcelona has fallen: Hitler speaks tomorrow… Dr. Freud gave me a narcissus.

–Diary of Virginia Woolf, 1939


Ate nothing but orange foods today, although not sure if carrot cake counts. My treadmill taunts me. Bloated.

—Diary of just about anyone this millennium


As is often the case, researchers give us both good news and bad news.

The good news: Keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss, a study has found. The methodology seems to be legit, too. It’s one of the largest and longest-running weight-loss-maintenance trials ever conducted.

“it seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories,” said lead author Jack Hollis, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

So there’s hope for us yet. But the bad news, of course, is that future generations will turn to these historical diaries for a sense of what life was like in the 21st century. They’ll be disappointed – and left with more questions.

Questions such as: “What is a Ho Ho?”

If you got your fill of Bridget Jones’s weigh-ins in the ’90s, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Everyone is encouraged to adopt the practice. In the study, the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost.

Americans, as we know, will do anything to drop a few pounds. (Except eat less and exercise more.) So expect sales of faux-leather diaries with locks that don’t work to soar.

It sounds too good to be true, but it makes sense. It’s one thing to sift 46 of the red Jelly Bellies out of the office candy dish and scarf them down. It’s quite another to commit it to print.

OK, yes, Jelly Bellies are fat-free. But I can promise you that you will feel shame.

Weight Watchers could have told you the secret years ago. (And if they’d have called the secret “The Secret,” they would have made a bundle, too.) Official food journals are part of Weight Watchers’ popularity and success.

But now amateurs are recording their eating habits for all posterity. The good, the bad, the deep-fried Snickers bars.


With blogs and MySpace making it so easy to broadcast your personal thoughts, it seems as though the diary was doomed. At least in its physical, shelvable form. It looked as though only Showtime’s “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” might be able to reignate interest in scribbled confessions.

But now that it’s been forever linked with weight loss, look for mini-notebooks to be the hot new accessory.

Our legacy? One day, if we’re lucky, the world will know the details of our fiber intake.

We might not be contributing to history or literature. But at least we’ll die thin.

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