More Health:

December 08, 2021

The benefits of starting a food diary

Healthy Eating Nutrition

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Purchased - Food Diary Daniele Mezzadri/

There’s no question about it — you are what you eat. Each day you consume thousands of calories, but what kind, when, and how much of them you eat can impact your energy levels, your success at work or school, how you feel about yourself, and of course, your weight.

It’s difficult to keep track of what goes in your body on any given day and the effect it has on you: what did you eat that made you feel bloated? Why did you have a good night’s sleep one day, but not the next? It’s not uncommon for nutritionists to address this by asking people to keep a “food diary,” a written record of their intake each day.

Whether you’re actively trying to manage your diet or not, there are five great reasons to start keeping a food diary now:

1. Eat healthier

A food diary lays out all of the choices you make each day. Just seeing what goes into your body can be encouragement enough to make healthier decisions at meal time. If you’re eating too many snacks, loading up on fast food over veggies, or drinking too much alcohol, tracking that in your food diary can show you that — and makes it clear once you make changes!

2. Control your weight

When people do not track their diet, they tend to underestimate what they’re eating by about half. The amounts of food you track in your diary can identify overeating and become a powerful tool to cut calories and slim down, without resorting to fad diets or a points system.

3. Better self-esteem and mood

Your diet can impact the way you feel. Research shows that dietary choices may affect your mood, and a healthy diet and weight can support strong self-esteem. Even if you’re in the process of eating healthier, a food diary can serve as evidence of the progress you’re making and encouragement to stay on the path.

4. Less gas, heartburn, or other symptoms

Certain foods can make you gassy, whereas others may be more likely to cause heartburn, indigestion or other symptoms. When you keep a food diary, you can look back to see what you ate before experiencing discomfort and begin avoiding or modifying those foods in your diet.

5. More effective preventive care

Your doctor may ask you about your diet during a routine appointment, and understanding what you’re eating can help with both preventive care and more quickly treating other issues.

Ready to start? It’s pretty easy. In a notebook or on your smartphone, build a log with seven columns. Each time you eat something, make sure to track:

 How much you ate
• What you ate
• When you ate it (time of day)
• Where you ate
• Who you ate with
• What you were doing while you ate
• How you felt

If you’re specific when writing in your food diary each day, you’ll soon have a record of nutrition that you can use to improve your diet. You may be able to identify patterns, see opportunities for better choices, or even connect food intake with other symptoms you experience. A final reminder: don’t cheat! Your food diary is only as effective as it is honest.

Follow us

Health Videos