The Devil Is In The Food Diary Details

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Dear DiaryDo you keep a food diary? Food journal? Tracker, log? You can call it whatever suits you but I highly recommend keeping one. All calories are not created equal and eating details go way beyond just the total number of calories that you eat in any given day. Food journals can help you on the road to improving your health.

Plan Ahead For Success
When you’re just starting out with eating healthy, it can be daunting to make sure that you are eating the right amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs. If you plan out your meals the night before, you can make adjustments if you need to before anything even gets eaten.

I see posts daily on Twitter that people suddenly realize around 3 pm that they are either way over or way under on their calories for the day. Both are not ideal situations to find yourself in that late in the game. If you plan it out, you can add in carbs, take out protein, or balance your calories however you need.

Track As You Eat
It can be very difficult to track everything you’ve eaten in your head and remember it all at the end of the day. You take bites here or there. You eat things and then forget about them hours later. If you don’t write down everything that you eat, something will always be left out at the end of the day when you attempt to track.

It’s best to follow Step 1 and plan ahead. That way you can just make minor adjustments if you eat or don’t eat something planned. Even if you don’t plan ahead, at the very least log as you eat. If you rely on memory, you may think you’re eating less than you actually are and find yourself wondering why the scale isn’t moving.

The Devil Is In The Details
In the beginning, the more details that you have in your journal the better. I suggest including things such as the time you ate, how hungry you were when you ate, and even the mood you were in. Details like this can show patterns in your behavior and help you work on a plan to head triggers off at the pass. Maybe you are going too long between meals and intense hunger is leading to overeating. Maybe you make bad food choices when you are angry or stressed.

The more you know, the more you can use this to your advantage. You can work better to regularly space your meals to avoid being too hungry. If you know stress will set you on a pizza binge, you can plan to take a walk if your day takes a stressful turn. Patterns may become obvious after a while of tracking. You can also see the types of foods you prefer, and work to mix in a little more variety.

You don’t have to track what you eat until the end of time. It’s good to do it for a few weeks so that you get used to planning what you’re eating and the combinations and quantities that work for you. Once you find that you are pretty well on track, you can relax a little bit and only track every now and then. I still make sure to log for a few days in a row every couple of months just to make sure that I haven’t gone hog wild.

I use a great free tracker on my iPhone called My Fitness Pal. I always have my phone with me so it’s easy to check to see what I have planned and make any edits to what I actually ate. It syncs with the online version so I can use either one. I can also check it at a restaurant to quickly view details about what I’m planning to order. If it’s not a great choice, I can hunt for a better option.

If you’re on My Fitness Pal, feel free to friend me and check out what I’m eating. I’m somewhereintx.

Do you keep a food journal? What about a weakness for butter? 😉


  1. Yes, I certainly keep a food journal, and I would recommend checking out MyNetDiary. They have a free app too! I love the barcode scanner feature. Nice article!

    • Thanks for telling me about MyNetDiary. I had never heard of the app but it looks pretty comprehensive and has a lot of great features! I’ll definitely check it out.

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