What is a Food Diary?

Ken Black
Ken Black
Those who keep a food diary write down what they eat on a regular basis.
Those who keep a food diary write down what they eat on a regular basis.

A food diary is a daily account of what a person eats over a certain period of time. In addition to the foods eaten, a food diary may have a place to make note of any particular foods and how they made a person feel, whether they caused acid problems, indigestion or other issues. The food diary is one of the most recommended items for those who are trying to diet.

The foods listed in a food diary are very important. Once they are listed, subsequent columns then record how large the portion was and how many calories that portion is estimated to have had. Of course, many times, because most do not exactly weigh out their foods, there will be minor differences in the food diary and what is actually consumed.

Once adequate records have been recorded, it is then possible to compare from week to week what the caloric intake is. This is vital when dieting because, despite all the fad diets on the planet, the main key is still determining how many calories went in. A comparison of each week, month, and perhaps year can help those dieting make sure they are on the right track.

Some may decide to put their weight down on a food diary, at least once a week. While this is a personal decision and is neither right or wrong, many dietitians recommend against being so preoccupied with weight, absent any serious health concerns. This is because it may be easy to get discouraged if a week does not go exactly as planned. In the end, the calories are the most important of all measurements.

Many may be hesitant to keep a food diary, feeling it takes too much time. However, to help those who feel this way, there are a number of programs. Some food diaries can be bought, or templates can be printed out from a word processing program. Some food diaries are offered in the form of interactive spread sheets, which help keep things very organized and may even be set up to handle all the math for the individual.

It may not be necessary to keep a food diary in order to lose weight, but it can be a very helpful aid, according to dietitians. Those who are trying to lose weight should at least consider the benefits a food diary offers and perhaps keep one on a trial basis. However, no food diary should discourage anyone from dieting. It may be that other methods are more effective for some individuals.

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Discussion Comments


I never kept a food diary before I became diabetic. Now I keep a printable food diary to keep track of what I eat, my insulin dose and my blood sugar levels. It helps me figure out what dose of insulin I need for different types of foods to keep my blood sugar in range. Every diabetic need to keep a food diary, it's a part of managing diabetes.


@literally45-- Absolutely. Many people keep a food diary to pinpoint foods that cause problems for them. It's a great tool for those experiencing food allergies or food intolerance without knowing the exact cause.

You don't have to write down every single thing you eat, but you should write down foods you ate right before you experienced a problem. So avoid eating many different things at once. Eat only one type of food and wait for an hour or two. Do this daily for at least week and write down all the foods that gave you issues.

You can then take this diary to a doctor to get more testing done for a diagnosis. For example, you may have a dairy or gluten intolerance and your diary will show which food group is problematic for you.


I'm not trying to lose weight but I have been experiencing indigestion and bloating frequently lately. Will keeping a daily food diary help me figure out what's causing it?

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    • Those who keep a food diary write down what they eat on a regular basis.
      By: Jane Doe
      Those who keep a food diary write down what they eat on a regular basis.