Food Diary

Keeping a record of your daily food intake will help you stay on track when trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and activity levels. It also will give your doctor or health care provider a quick way to check your progress.

Sample Food Diary

How Much What Food
Time Where Alone or with Whom Activity Mood
3 Chocolate Chip Cookies 3:25pm Office Alone Working on a report Bored
1 Cheeseburger 6:15pm Burger King Claire & John Talking Happy
1 French Fries " " " " "
1 Regular Vanilla Shake " " " " "
1 cup Haagen Dazs Ice Cream 10:00pm Kitchen Alone Watching TV Tired

How to properly fill out your Food Diary

How much:  In this space indicate the amount of the particular food item you ate. Estimate the size (2" x 1" x 1"), the volume (1/2 cup), the weight (2 ounces) and/or the number of items (12) of that type of food.

What kind:  In this column, write down the type of food you ate. Be as specific as you can. Include sauces and gravies. Don't forget to write down "extras," such as soda, salad dressing, mayonnaise, butter, sour cream, sugar and ketchup.

Time:  Write the time of day you ate the food.

Where:  Write what room or part of the house you were in when you ate. If you ate in a restaurant, fast-food chain or your car, write that location down.

Alone or with someone: If you ate by yourself, write "alone." If you were with friends or family members, list them.

Activity: In this column, list any activities you were doing while you were eating (for example, working, watching TV or ironing).

Mood:  How were you feeling while you were eating (for example, sad, happy or depressed)?

Some basic rules to remember

  • Write everything down: Keep your form with you all day, and write down everything you eat or drink. A piece of candy, a handful of pretzels, a can of soda pop or a small donut may not seem like much at the time, but over a week these calories add up!
  • Do it now: Don't depend on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating as you go.
  • Be specific: Make sure you include "extras," such as gravy on your meat or cheese on your vegetables. Do not generalize. For example, record french fries as french fries, not as potatoes.
  • Estimate amounts: If you had a piece of cake, estimate the size (2" x 1" x 2") or the weight (3 ounces). If you had a vegetable, record how much you ate (1/4 cup). When eating meat, remember that a 3-ounce cooked portion is about the size of a deck of cards.

Helpful Hints

  • Do not change your eating habits while you are keeping your food diary, unless your doctor has given you specific instructions to do so.
  • Tell the truth. There's nothing to be gained by trying to look good on these forms. Your doctor can help only if you record what you really eat.
  • Record what you eat on all days your doctor recommends.
  • Be sure to bring the completed forms back with you to your next doctor's appointment

If you have any questions, call your doctor.

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Last updated: 11/4/2020