Dear Diary: Why Tracking Your Meals is Eating Smart

Have you ever kept a food diary before? Writing down what you eat is an incredible tool for eating smarter and slimming down. It helps you be more mindful of what and how much you’re eating, allowing you to spot your dietary weaknesses. In fact, keeping a food (and or physical activity) diary is one of the most effective weight loss strategies you can use. Think about it, even if you aren’t planning to change your diet, writing it down makes you think twice. Do I really want to write down that I ate an entire sleeve of saltine crackers? Maybe I’ll just take out 10 and put them away instead. [True story. I have to watch myself around those boring, dry, but somehow irresistible, refined carb goodies.]

Food diaries are also useful if you are doing some food intolerance detective work. For instance, I finally realized I have some lactose intolerance issues after keeping track of what I was eating before my stomach started hurting. Interestingly, I figured out that a glass of milk or bowl of ice cream gave me a stomachache, but yogurt and cheese (which have less lactose due to how they are made) didn’t bother me the same way. I never would have figured that out without keeping track of what I ate.

As you saw in the video, there are several different ways to keep a food diary, traditional pen and paper, using a smartphone or web app, etc. If you are online regularly, MyPlate’s Supertracker is a great program for logging your meals and physical activity. FNP also has a nice Slim Down Food Diary (pictured below) you can use. You just need to find a way that works for you. Figure out something that records as much (or as little) information as you need and is something you can stick with day after day.

food record

Example of a food diary. Printable version linked above.



If you’re trying to slim down, a food diary will help. Let us know how you’re planning on keeping track in the comments.

Bonus Tip: All the same applies for keeping track of your physical activity. Writing down your exercise routines will help you keep track of your progress and motivate you to keep going.

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