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5 Tips for Utilizing Your Food Diary Effectively

5 Tips for Utilizing Your Food Diary Effectively

One of the number one ways to help keep your fitness on track is to keep a food diary. A food diary is a place where you track everything that you take in. This helps hold you accountable. Having a visual representation of everything you are eating truly puts into perspective the amount and kind of food you are having whether it be good or bad.

5 Tips for Utilizing Your Food Diary Effectively

Here is an example food diary for me one week. It’s far from perfect but it does keep up with what I consumed and allows me to look back and see where I was at with my eating for the week.

Food Diary Example

1. Be Honest

It’s really tempting to just not write down all the “bad foods” but that does nothing to help you. A good diet includes flexibility. Be strict with yourself about writing down everything. Whenever you do eat one of those not so great for you foods then forgive yourself and move on. Just because you don’t write something down does not mean that it doesn’t count!

2. Find a system that works for you

There are tons of ways to keep a food diary! Some people really like apps you can download where you can scan bar-codes and get exact calories for everything.  I personally prefer to use actual paper in front of me. I really hate the apps that you use because after a few days it ends up feeling so tedious to me and I just stop using it. While a paper food diary doesn’t allow you to see all of the calories each item has I honestly don’t think that’s necessary. I personally think that most people have at least a general idea of what is healthy vs what isn’t. As long as you are making the best food choices you can and writing down everything knowing what the exact calories are isn’t essential.

3. Forgive yourself for the bad days

I’ve said it 1000 times. Being fit is all about balance! If you feel so restricted that you never eat something that you truly enjoy that is on the “bad” list then your new lifestyle will not last. Not allowing yourself a treat every now and then will make you miserable and leads to yo-yo dieting. Write it down and move on!

4. Don’t forget to write down your fluid intake

So many of my clients don’t think about writing down what they drink. Keeping up with how much water you are drinking everyday will encourage you to drink more (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need to drink more water?). Also be sure you are writing down any sodas, juices, milks and alcohol you may consume. These drinks have calories therefore they count!

5. Don’t go to the extreme

If you opt to not use an app to keep up with your food diary then you have to remember to write things down later. I’ve had some clients ask if they need to take their food diary with them everywhere. The answer is yes and no. I say yes to taking it to work but it really isn’t essential to take it into every restaurant that you ever go to. I will usually make a note in my phone of what I have and whenever I get home I’ll write it down. A food diary is a tool to help you not to make your life harder!


Printable Food Diary


29 thoughts on “5 Tips for Utilizing Your Food Diary Effectively

  1. Thank you for this. I had to start writing down my intake a couple of years ago when I was trying to figure out what foods my system didn’t like. I love this form.

  2. Keeping a food diary is such a great idea. So far I haven’t been disciplined enough to do it. I did start keeping a trigger diary however so that I could pinpoint things that triggered stress and help me stop smoking. Maybe I could incorporate food into that as well.

  3. I really like this a lot! I used to do meal prep so I had to keep up with every single thing perfectly. It was really hard and when the meal prepping starting slipping so did everything else so I totally get how important it is to keep track. Thanks for sharing!

    1. When I first started I know I had issues but after a couple of weeks it will eventually just become another habit. Just keep pushing through!

  4. I love my food diary and did great until the summer. As a family travel writer who travels with 5 kids in tow the summer is my enemy. I end up eating what I am feeding the kids, snacking on way too many treats, getting addicted to sugar and all of the sudden summer is over and I am 5-7 lbs heavier. I also realized I stopped using my food diary. Hoping I can eventually end this cycle. I feel like junk when I do it.

    1. I totally understand how it is to be tempted to just finish off the kid’s left overs. I’m trying to get my toddler to like more healthy foods and he is slowly coming around but he still pretty much just wants to eat macaroni and cheese unfortunatly so I have to resist the temptation to just eat what he has left. It helps me to think of my food diary like I would a job. It’s a HAVE TO not just a SHOULD.

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