It all depends on you and the program you choose.  There is still no substitute for the old adage calories in – calories out = weight gain or loss.  In other words, if you eat more than you burn off, you are going to gain weight.

The question is, what will help us in our hectic lives make better food choices?

There are quite a few different high-tech programs out there that can help you.  Of course, if you don’t use them, then nothing will help you.  We come back to the basics again, don’t we – YOU.

One high-tech program, The Food Phone service, gives you instant “live” feedback on every meal you eat to help you keep your food journal.  You know, the journal where you should be keeping track of everything you eat so you know how many calories you are consuming.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, with The Food Phone service you pay a monthly fee of $149 to stay hooked up, via your cell phone, to dieticians who are available 27/7.  Whenever you get the urge to eat, you snap a digital picture of what you want to chow down on, send it electronically to a food phone coach and the coach will phone you back instantly with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” along with suggestions for what to do instead, such as eating half a portion of your desired treat.

Of course, the downside to this service is the cost, and are you actually going to take a picture of all the food you eat every day?  Also, a picture does not give you the full story, like how much fat, sugar, salt or calories in a dish.  It may be helpful in portion control, but this a rather expensive way to do it. 

If you don’t like to write down everything you eat and look up how many calories, fat, salt, etc. is in that meal, there are computer programs that help keep you on your weight loss regime.   These programs vary from simple meal breakdown to sophisticated tracking of both dieting and fitness goals, with meal suggestions, exercise regimes and daily progress reports.  Many also work in PDAs.  The average cost is $35-$49.

The experts, like Lona Sandon, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, states “By using software to track your progress over time, you can see your accomplishments in print, which can be highly motivating.”  As with food journals, Sandon says, these computer programs also raise awareness about eating habits.

Of course, you do not want a computer program that keeps you at the computer for any length of time when you should be moving around.  Balance is the key here. 

There are several online diet programs that are the electronic version of the group approach to losing weight.  With the power of a virtual community to support your weight loss goals, these programs are excellent if you cannot afford in-person nutritional counseling, or it is not convenient for you.  While you are at your computer anyway, these websites are definitely more productive than playing games or surfing.  You just might make some new friends too.

New York University nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, says, “There have been several studies suggesting that Internet weight loss programs can be quite beneficial.”  She also reported that one study found that adding personalized counseling via email significantly improved weight loss in adults at risk for diabetes.

Anything that can help you with portion control and motivation will certainly keep you on the road to better health, if you use it.  It all comes back to your attitude.  You have to want to get healthier and you are the only one who can