Food Diary – Why Should You Use It?

The food diary is a tool that can help you discover the strengths and mistakes of your usual diet. It is an ideal instrument if you want to make a change in your diet.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on November 01, 2021.

Last update: November 01, 2021

If you are looking to improve the quality of your diet, lose weight, be conscious of your meals or overcome some digestive discomfort, the food diary can be a perfect tool to achieve this goal.

This is a periodic record of all the food and drinks consumed throughout the day. Thus, when reviewing the collected data You become aware of what may be doing you wrong and it is easier to undertake the change.

The idea of ​​having to write down and detail everything you eat may seem daunting, but it is easier than it seems at first glance and more plausible. Note that many times the perception of and the reality of what you eat can be very different.

What is the food diary and what can you use it for?

The food diary is a record of your food and drink intake each day.

As described a bit above, a food diary is nothing more than a method you can adopt to keep track of everything you eat and drink throughout the day.

On some occasions, it may be a doctor or a dietitian who advises you to carry out this registration. However, deep down it is a very positive habit for everyone, as it can be used for various purposes.

For instance, If your goal is to improve eating habits and achieve a healthy diet, it is essential to have a food log. Thus, you can know the starting point of “the what, how and why” of meals. With this, the dietitian assesses which are the points that you should modify and the best way to adapt the diet to your situation.

Too It’s essential if you suspect a food allergy or are trying to figure out which foods are causing you negative symptoms. This is of particular interest if you suffer from conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux.



What’s more, a food diary isn’t just for recording and evaluating specific foods. With it it is possible to examine patterns and behaviors (quantities, snacks, snacks…) that may be harming you and, thus, break with them.

Finally, if you have children it is a tool that you can apply for them or for the whole family in general. In the first years of life it is useful to assess with pediatricians the possible nutritional deficiencies in the diet of the little ones.

Possible benefits of keeping a food diary

In general, keeping a daily meal log is a rare practice among the population. However, it could be very useful in some situations. Realizing your starting point is the first step in making a change in your diet. whatever the reason you decide to do it.

By taking note of everything, you become more aware and responsible for what you eat and drink throughout the day. If on this path you also go to a nutrition professional or a specialist doctor, the newspaper facilitates the exchange of information.

One of the most analyzed aspects in this field is the benefit of the dietary record in weight loss. Among others, participants in a Diabetes Prevention and Management Program were followed for a year divided into 3 groups.

After one year, the group of people with a more constant record of their intakes was the one with the best results in weight loss, obtained progressively over 12 months. It appears that recording meals was positive at specific times such as holidays or holidays compared to the other groups.

Too It is very useful in the detection of allergies, intolerances and the general balance of the eating pattern. It’s not just about counting calories but knowing if you are eating enough foods from each major group.

Finally, it can help you uncover the trigger for unhealthy eating or digestive discomfort. Knowing the time, place, and mood reveals whether they negatively affect your choices and subsequent sensations.

For example, eating a lot at night can be due to nerves and anxiety or a poor intake during the day. When you detect the reason, the benefit obtained is greater because you manage to modify patterns and enjoy the long-term changes.



How it’s done: tips for recording your meals

The food diary can help you improve your eating habits.

In order for you to make efficient use of your food diary, it is necessary to follow a few simple steps and take into account the following aspects.

  • Draw a table with several rows and columns. The essential data that cannot be missing are the number of meals, what you have eaten, the quantities and the cooking method. It is also useful to write down everything that is used in the preparation of a dish (oil, butter, seasonings, etc.).
  • Reserve a space for write down other details such as time and place of meals whether at home, in a restaurant, in the office, on foot, in the car or in the bedroom. Also, write down the possible activities you do at mealtime (watching TV, working on the computer, chatting with someone, etc.).
  • Likewise, sensations have a place in the food diary. You can feel happy, sad, anxious, stressed, nervous, bored or tired and it is essential to take this into account.
  • Write down each meal you eat or each food you eat, whether it be snacks, proper meals or snacks.
  • Take note of the exact units or approximate weight of each of the foods. Weighing is the most practical, but you can also use homemade measures such as tablespoons, glasses, plates, etc. Avoid using imprecise words like “a sip”, “something of”, “normal” …
  • Take into account all the exact specifications of a product. For example: a natural, whole and unsweetened yogurt.
  • Write everything down in the moment, as it is very easy that at the end of the day you miss many of the intakes and their exact characteristics. It is the best way to have a record as limited as possible.

The most practical thing is to use some sheets of paper or a small notepad that you can always carry with you. In the same way, you may find some specific applications for this purpose or the mobile phone notepad.

The food diary: a daily aid

The food diary is designed to help you boost and get improvements in your diet. It is not good if it is only used to highlight mistakes or if it encourages your feeling of guilt. This is actually a positive method that you should never use to scold or embarrass yourself.

The best basis for undertaking it is sincerity. There is no use writing down what you think is right to have a healthy diet and omitting what you think is wrong.

Now, as often happens in the field of nutrition, not everything is good for everyone. So if you think that this tool is not suitable for you, makes you feel stressed or generates negative feelings, find other ways to improve with your dietitian.

And what happens once you have your food diary? Analyze in parts what your habits are and what your eating pattern is like (for this, it is advisable to do it with a professional). And gradually undertake the necessary changes to obtain your best purposes.

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