Keeping a Food Diary: Benefits, Ways & Tips

Keeping a Food Diary: Benefits, Ways & Tips

There is really a lot of good to be gotten out of keeping a food journal, once you start it, you will notice how convenient it is for keeping a watch over your weight loss, defining your food preferences, making sure you get proper nutrition and many other issues related to your eating habits.

Dropping excess weight

According to the findings of a study completed by Portland’s Kaiser Center for Health Research, of the 1,700 people involved those who were on a diet and kept a food journal lost two times the weight lost by those who forwent the expediency during a six-month research. The conclusion is obvious: as you write down the contents of your meals you make yourself more accountable for everything you take. Now you know just how much you indulge in calorie-rich food; also, your food diary will help you deal with mindless eating and chewing on the go.

Nutrition control

Now that you have a food log you can see instantly what kind of food you have been neglecting lately thus leaving out necessary nutrients. You know that you are supposed to take nine servings of veggies and fruit per day, but your food journal shows relentlessly that it’s been only three so far. Also, it reveals the percentage of fast foods and processed foods in your diet against healthy nutrient foods. Therefore, a food journal is the very thing you need for keeping your meals balanced easily. By observing balance you will improve your nutrition. Then, you can always look back through the journal to ensure you have improved your diet compared to a month ago.

Recognizing intolerance for foods

Another helpful feature of your food diary can be pinpointing possible intolerance for foods. For that, you must record your sensations after each meal – whether you feel bloated, heavy, nauseous within an hour after eating a particular kind of food. You should know if you are, say, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant. If you have an ailment, diabetes, to mention but one, your food log may be a valuable source of information about foods that can cause problems and show you the guideline to your healthy eating plan without aftermeal problems.

How To Keep A Food Diary

You can start a food journal without any professional help at all. The only things you need is a little of your time and perseverance. You will have to be consistent in putting down everything that comes into your mouth. Don’t skip registering meals, and keep track of even the smallest snacks that you chew mindlessly while watching a movie. If writing everything down meticulously is really problematic, make use of food apps that will make the job of registering different meals in different parts of town much easier.

how to keep a food diary

How to keep food log in the most effective way?

Take heed of these simple tips to make your food diary the great help it can be.

  • First, consider the format. You will certainly need to register how hungry you felt as you sat down to eat, when you had your meal, what did you take and what amount.
  • You may encounter certain difficulties, be ready to cope with them.
  • In case you find it hard holding yourself in check, make a point of measuring out and weighing all your food.
  • If calories are the big problem, take account of nutritional components too, registering fat, salt, sugar and so on.
  • For a clearer picture of your eating habits, include the information on where you take your meals, who with, and whether there were any additional circumstances.
  • If eating is linked with emotional issues, register your moods both before and after the meal (or the snack).
  • Practically speaking, the journal should be kept on a daily basis, but if you find it inconvenient for some reason or other, make a decision to fill it at least five days every week.

Decide how you are going to keep your food log: either fill it out after each meal or find some time every evening to concentrate on what you had. Dietitians say, however, that the best bet is to make entries right after the meal or the snack and enter as much information as you can. It may seem troublesome at first, but your diligence will be repaid later.

Decide what information you will really need

Making very detailed entries may seem too much at the start – fine, lay down as much information as you deem strictly necessary at first. Jot down only the most important points. The idea that your food diary should contain full details, otherwise it will be useless, is wrong. Just start recording information, and soon your food log will be helping you analyze and understand your eating habits like you’ve never done before.

Add up every little bit

As you become more accurate, recording all those pinches of fries, handfuls of sweet stuff, sauces and mayonnaise that went with your snacks, you will be able to trace those unwanted extra calories that make for overeating. Reading your food journal backwards, you will see the way all those small items add up and amount to many more calories.

Register portion sizes

Make the picture of your meals more precise by jotting down exact portion sizes for every dish in your diary. While you measure out the portions you will gain a better understanding of what is a normal portion for the person you are. Once you’ve gotten the knack of it, you will remember your portions and do it later on a less regular basis.

Consider the problems that will be facing you

You may be embarrassed about your eating habits and you don’t want to keep them registered. You believe that keeping a food log is an absolutely worthless suggestion that won’t help any to cope with your weight. It may be extremely inconvenient for you to keep detailed accounts after each meal with your lifestyle. When you indulge you feel so bad that you want to give it up. All – or some – of these considerations are sure to occur to you at one time or another. Yet all of them are not so drastic as they may seem. Keep your mind on the usefulness of the food log, live down the slips on the way, don’t try to be perfect and focus on controlling your habits.

Reread your entries way back

Once you have got a well-filled diary, read it from the beginning and you will realize the full use of it. After doing it on your own, take your diary to an expert dietitian or therapist and go over it with them: they can point out the things you missed or suggest ways to alter your eating habits. The more you analyze the information the more benefit you will draw from it.

A few words in conclusion

Whatever your goals are, to keep calorie count, to drop weight, or to balance out your eating, a food journal will provide you with a scientific, holistic means of achieving them. You will hone your awareness, discover recurring patterns, make your bad habits stand out and consequently make necessary alterations more obvious. A little commitment and a few minutes of your time will go a long way. Your tablet or your smartphone can help you minimize the trouble of registering information regularly.

About the Author

Daria Kurilko is the founder, writer and editor of – an online guide for women about beauty, health and relationships. She has a master’s degree in sociology with a number of scientific publications to her credit and extensive experience in marketing and pr. Daria, who currently lives in Wiesbaden, Germany, is also a loving mother and wife. Since 2007 she enjoys sharing her experiences and broad knowledge about all things nutrition, beauty and lifestyle with her readers.

30 comments… add one
  • selena September 15, 2016, 6:37 pm

    now i’m convinced i can do this!

  • giada September 15, 2016, 2:42 am

    keeping track of what you eat is very first it would seem difficult but you’ll definitely get used to it.

  • cassandra September 13, 2016, 7:17 pm

    I’d really love to drop some weight, i think this is nice idea. thanks!

  • irene September 12, 2016, 6:34 pm

    i have done this on my phone with an app and i think it was really effective keeping track of what you eat and how it affects your body.

  • alexa September 9, 2016, 7:32 pm

    this was actually a great read. i was hesitant at first due to the title, but it is great!

  • smirna September 8, 2016, 10:13 pm

    keeping a diary has never been my thing esp with all the technology now..but i think i may have to try it for healthy diet.

  • jorena September 7, 2016, 7:48 pm

    i would love to try this method. i think it’s a clever idea. thank you!

  • carlisle September 6, 2016, 8:28 pm

    i never thought this would do anything at all..i think i might be doing this for long. thanks!

  • kendra September 3, 2016, 1:04 am

    food diary..?!? no way!! but after reading the article, it made a lot of sense.

  • zania September 1, 2016, 6:18 pm

    this is a good read..i thought it’s just all about food diaries but it makes you really think of ways on which you can keep up with the right diet, thank you!

  • cherryPie August 31, 2016, 7:39 pm

    i hate diaries..i’m just not as organized. hehe but i think this is worth the try

  • cristy August 30, 2016, 11:51 pm

    i just might try this method..i like organizing :)

  • zenaida August 29, 2016, 6:05 pm

    i tried this once before but didn’t really succeed. i hope i can try and do it again

  • adesha August 26, 2016, 7:10 pm

    makes me think twice about ignoring what i eat..haha

  • chastity August 25, 2016, 11:30 pm

    great tips on how to really keep up with good diet! (:

  • vanessa_mae August 24, 2016, 7:52 pm

    i really want to lose weight and i just don’t have the time to go to the gym and do stuff. i guess keeping a food diary won’t hurt since i can do it on my phone

  • megan August 23, 2016, 11:38 pm

    i feel like this is too much for me since i have always hated dairies..but whatever it takes to help me stay fit and healthy

  • violet August 22, 2016, 11:47 pm

    i like this post, ill check out your other diet tips cause i need great advice and tips

  • aprilyn August 19, 2016, 12:14 am

    i want to do this so bad.,i really hope i could start soon

  • marianne August 18, 2016, 12:55 am

    i so badly need this stuff right now. im glad i saw this article, will read more later

  • daniella August 15, 2016, 11:47 pm

    i’m not really into taking notes but i guess this one should benefit me the most

  • zeny August 12, 2016, 11:14 pm

    love your diet tips, i really wanna try this method soon! :)

  • helena August 11, 2016, 6:50 pm

    i tried downloading the calorie calculator app but didn’t really succeed. i hope these tips would work for me.

  • kara August 10, 2016, 11:44 pm

    i want to keep up w/ my diet but i hate diaries, journals, etc..

  • beth August 9, 2016, 10:50 pm

    i think i really need to start doing this so i can keep track of my diet. it’s really tough but i know it’s gonna be all worth it in the end.

  • vina August 9, 2016, 1:30 am

    i like this post..makes me think real hard about my diet and health..i think i’m gonna try this

  • wilma August 5, 2016, 11:55 pm

    i hate doing diaries, more so if it’s my food! haha
    maybe i can try this..not now though..

  • arcelia August 4, 2016, 11:32 pm

    i never wanted to be that conscious but i’ve heard many stories about keeping a food diary and i hope this will help me too.

  • jill August 3, 2016, 6:51 pm

    i have just downloaded an app that counts my calorie intake for every meal/food.. hope i could carry on doing this.

  • ashlyn August 2, 2016, 7:10 pm

    food diary? can’t imagine doing’s just too much for me

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