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Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: July 22, 2022
Food diaries are also called food journals or logs. Keeping a food log is an excellent way to account for your eating habits such as when you eat, what you eat, and your actual feeling when you eat.
It could also help you establish possible food intolerances.
Perhaps your goal is to lose a few pounds? If so, a food log is a highly effective weight-loss tool. Surprisingly, starting a food log is usually the first thing licensed dietitians request their clients to do.
Although it might look simple, noting down what you ingest may help increase self-awareness. And this may help you make healthier choices.
To ensure that you’re getting the most out of starting a food log, you have to know how to do it right. We’ve put together this detailed guide on what a food log looks like.
Let’s start with the basics…
What Is a Food Log?
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It’s a detailed method of meal tracking often used by folks who are trying to lose extra pounds or make other dietary changes.
Mostly, food logs are recommended by dietitians and nutritionists when they’re working with clients who might be facing challenges changing their eating habits.
You might also decide to keep a log on your own, just to have more awareness of your eating habits. Your simple lined notebook may work as a log. A computer spreadsheet is also an ideal approach to keep the information well-organized.
When it comes to creating a food log, you’ll first need to identify a specific time for which you’ll be logging the food intake. It could be a day, a week, two weeks, or even a month.
Most health experts generally recommend keeping a log for a minimum of one week, to have the most comprehensive picture of eating habits.
Generally, this complete picture will help to depict where you need to make changes.
Daily Food Log Example
When used efficiently, a food log has been known to bring significant changes to a person’s diet, health, and life on the whole.
Here’s an example of a food log:
- Breakfast: 2 slices of toast with a cup of coffee in the kitchen. At 7:00am.
- Lunch: A Burger and mineral water in your office canteen. At 2:00pm.
- Dinner: Green salad with cucumbers, radish, peppers, 6 oz salmon. Glass of water. At 6:00pm.
The above format consists of the type of food, the actual quantity of that food, where it was taken, and with whom. It’s a basic template that illustrates all the necessary information to completely track your food intake.
Other templates may make provision for how you actually feel before and after your meals.
You might still be wondering how to get started?
How to Write a Food Log
How do you create a food log? Well, just try to remain consistent and be patient with yourself as you adjust. Does it feel challenging but manageable? Then, it’s likely to be helpful. And if you miss a day, avoid stressing too much. Pick it back up the following day.
You should also remember that it’s not forever. Undoubtedly, food logs will tell you a lot regardless of whether you do it every day for a year or just for today.
Perhaps using a pen and paper might not be realistic for you? You could try using an app, taking pictures, or writing a note on your smartphone. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt are two of the most popular apps available. Fitbit also features an in-built food tracker in its app.
To get started:
- Log foods as soon as possible. The key to nailing the entire food logging thing is to ensure that you record what you’re eating at the exact moment you’re eating it. But since this may not always be realistic, don’t worry. It would also be okay if you can take a quick photo of a meal before you eat it or whatever you’re ordering and input the details after the fact.
- Note down where you’re eating. Quite frankly, most of us don’t eat all our meals and snacks in a dining room. Keeping a physical or digital record of the actual place you eat will generally help you become more aware of your current eating habits and the situations that influence them.
- Consider what you are doing or how you’re feeling. Reviewing patterns is beneficial for finding ways to make certain changes – for example, if you tend to reach for a snack whenever you’re stressed at work. Consider trying a different and healthier form of stress relief, such as taking a 15-minute stroll to clear your head.
- Note down what you might have “missed” at any meal. Maybe you ordered a bunless burger at lunchtime today and eventually consumed the contents of a cereal box while binge-watching your favorite TV show after dinner? Try incorporating more fiber into your lunch and find out how you feel tomorrow. In case you skip meals or certain valuable components at a meal, you’ll probably overeat later on.
- Consider flavor. Let’s assume you ordered a burrito during lunchtime. Did you really need the wrap, beans, rice, guac, cheese, all the salsas, sour cream, and steak? Perhaps you were super full afterward, lazing through the rest of the day in a half-asleep food coma? So, the next time you want Chipotle, try ordering a burrito bowl. It could play a fundamental role in your weight-loss goals by providing you flavor with less filler.
- Utilize your food log as a library. This is a go-to list of your most preferred items to order, the actual restaurants where you chose salad when all you really wanted was fried chicken, incredible recipes you enjoyed, and which modifications or options left you feeling satisfied, and not deprived.
- Maintain honesty. Are you using a food journal but not being entirely truthful in your entries? Unfortunately, it’s not working as a tool for you anymore. The only person who can see it is you. Begin from a realistic place and then make gradual changes. In general, habits come from the choices you make consistently.
Why Should You Keep a Food Log?
In general, your daily norms are remarkably helpful tools to manage your actual health. Undoubtedly, proper nutrition isn’t a cure-all. However, it’s the foundation for a tip-top mind and body.
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Food logging is simple but powerful. Well, it’s safe to say that it’s eye (and mouth) opening. A thorough view of everything you consume can assist you determine all the changes necessary to…
- Improve your health by acquiring more nutrients
- Lose weight
- Identify food sensitivities
And this leads us to an important question…
Does Keeping a Food Log Help You Lose Weight?
Absolutely YES! Logging what you eat at every meal or snack may help you boost your health and cut down excess pounds for two primary reasons.
For starters, you’re accountable to a watchful but nonjudgmental party. Consistently logging your food assists you to consider when and why you’re eating, as well as how satisfied or hungry you feel.
Such record-keeping will generally help you get a more positive relationship with food. It will draw your attention to food-associated pitfalls that might have thrown you off track and provides you with the information you require to move forward with honesty.
The second reason why keeping a food log works is that offers you a wealth of information about yourself. That’s right. You’ll discover more about the specific foods you like (and don’t like) plus the venues and scenarios that you find yourself eating.
This can assist you to recognize any negative feelings regarding food and establish why you may be eating for different reasons other than how hungry you really felt.
What’s the Best Type of Food Log?
This is one of the FAQs when it comes to creating a food log.
Quite frankly, the best food log is the one you use. Regardless of whether you prefer pen and paper or electronic, the goal’s the same. Ensure that you write down everything you eat, daily.
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Some examples of food and fitness apps that most people like include MyFitnessPal, Foodility, and Nourishly. Other peeps print off a chart, use Google spreadsheets, or co-opt a nonfood journal.
The sky’s the limit.
Research shows that food logging — writing down everything you consume— will encourage you to make healthier choices. A food log can be a great tool for weight loss or proper meal planning.
It can also help you establish the relationship between certain foods and symptoms.
If you consistently use a food log for a few months, the habit will become part of your lifestyle. That means it will stop feeling like a hassle, and you’d appreciate it more. As aforementioned, you should choose a format that suits you best.
Either a book, notepad, computer, or an app.
Besides the regular logging, pictures of the food you’re about to ingest can be added to your entries which may spice up logging and make it look more exciting!
Start your food log today for a healthier you!