I have already written about the importance of keeping a food diary to help weight’s loss and also as a powerful tool for creating accountability and measuring weight loss success. A food diary can help you look at your eating habits and make healthy changes. You can see which foods you need to eat more or less of.You can also check to see if you are eating a variety of foods.
Food diary: how to start
Simply begin by tracking your food and beverage intake for a three day period (preferably for 2 week days [Monday through Friday] and 1 weekend day [Saturday or Sunday]).
Food diary template
You can enter your foods and beverages directly into this template – Food Diary Template – Food record – (to be printed). For a sample food diary have a look at this file – Sample Food Diary with daily records – as an example of how to document your intake.
How to fill a food diary
Document food items as completely and accurately as possible, listing separate ingredients when indicated (e.g., don’t just write “sandwich”, but include type of bread, filling, vegetables added, sauces and condiments). This will be important for the computerized or online analysis when looking up food items.
Food diary: Free online Trackers
You can also use a free online tracker or dietary analysis program (or phone app) such as
If you select your own diet tracker, ideally it will measure your average caloric intake; percent calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat; saturated fat; fiber; and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including sodium. If you use the Daily Food Record, you can manually look up your foods or input them into an online diet tracker.
How to measure portions
Estimate the amounts or serving size you consume as closely as possible in units, such as cups, ounces, tablespoons, and teaspoons (most programs also include metric measurements). Use the this Food Diary Portion Sizes document to help you estimate portion sizes.
Be accurate and sincere
Ideally record your intake following each meal or snack rather than waiting until the end of the day and trying to recall food items and amounts. This will prove to be more accurate and representative of your actual intake. Eat (and drink) as you normally would. This will provide you with the most useful information and feedback.
It is helpful to include brand name for packaged foods and name of restaurant chain for fast food selections along with serving size or amount. This will help you in finding the food item or a similar item when you search the database in the online analysis program or app.