Contents

Nutrition: Keeping a Food Diary

A food diary is a log of what you consume each day. It can help you make changes to your diet and lose weight. You can use it to improve your health by tracking what you eat and drink. The diary helps you and your doctor understand your eating habits. Follow the instructions below to get the most out of your food diary.

Path to improved health

You should include several pieces of information in your daily food diary. These are:

  • How much: List the amount of the food/drink item. This might be measured in volume (1/2 cup), weight (2 ounces), or the number of items (12 chips).
  • What kind: Write down the type of food/drink. Be as specific as you can. Don’t forget to write down extras, such as toppings, sauces, or condiments. For example, butter, ketchup, or sugar.
  • When: Keep track of the time of day you eat.
  • Where: Make note of where you eat. If you are at home, write down the room. For instance, at the dining room table, in the kitchen, or on the sofa. If you are out, write down the name of the restaurant or if you are in the car.
  • Who with: If you eat by yourself, write “alone.” If you are with friends or family members, list them.
  • Activity: In this column, list any activities you do while you eat. You could be working, watching TV, or playing a game.
  • Mood: You also should include how you feel when you eat. Are you happy, sad, or bored? Your mood can relate to your eating habits and help you change them.
How much What kind When Where Who with Activity Mood
3 mini chocolate chip cookies 3:25 p.m. office alone working on report bored
1 8 oz. cheeseburger 6:15 p.m. Burger King Claire, Jackie talking happy
1 medium french fries
1 medium vanilla shake
1 cup Haagen Dazs strawberry ice cream 10 p.m. kitchen alone watching TV tired

When keeping a food diary, some basic rules to remember are:

  • Write everything down. Keep your diary with you all day. Write down everything you eat and drink, no matter how small it seems. Whether it’s a piece of candy, a small soda, or a big meal, the calories add up.
  • Do it now. Don’t rely on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating details as you go.
  • Be specific. Record your food exactly how you eat it. If you have fried chicken strips, don’t just say chicken. Make sure you also include the extras. This could be gravy on your meat or dressing on your salad.
  • Estimate amounts. If you have a piece of cake, estimate the size (2″ x 1″ x 2″). If you have vegetables, record how much you eat (1/4 cup). When you eat meat, a 3-ounce cooked portion is about the size of a deck of cards.

Things to consider

In order to succeed, your diary needs to tell the truth. You don’t gain anything by cheating to look good. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or a dietician. Share your food diary with them to plan changes to your eating habits.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How often or long should I keep a food diary?
  • What should my food diary tell me?
  • Should I list vitamins, supplements, or other medicines?

Resources

Food and Activity Journal

10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal for Weight Loss

Most people think of weight loss as a formula: healthy food + exercise = weight loss. So, why then, is the scale still not budging even though you’re doing everything right? It’s probably because the weight loss industry doesn’t teach us the secret ingredient that’s vital for a healthy life and healthy body: our minds. We often overeat not because our body is demanding it, but because our brain is. Stress, powerful emotions, and lack of sleep all lead us to dip our hand into the cookie jar or to order the burger instead of the salad. Simply put: being in tune with our mental state makes us more in tune with the rest of our body. But how exactly do you find out what’s going on up there to lose weight down below? Thankfully, there’s a super simple brain hack. It’s called a food journal and it’s time you get writing.

In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that among 1,700 individuals, those who journaled daily lost double the weight compared to non-journalers. And a 2012 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that, out of 439 women, those who kept a food journal lost about 13 percent of their starting body weight compared to the 8 percent of those who did not journal.

The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write down later and face the ultimate critic (AKA you). Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food or the habits you’ve fallen into. Perhaps you find that you crave fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even do yoga before work to prevent your stress.

Journaling is a scientifically-proven weight loss tool, but it can help you with so much more than just that. It can be used to track your step-by-step progress in fitness or your success at work. Whatever you use it for, there’s one downside to journaling: it’s downright hard. It’s burdensome to consistently write in a journal every day and difficult to face your emotions head on. But, trust us, just one short journal session a day can help you keep your word when it comes to weight loss. We’re giving you the tips you need to successfully put pen to paper and put your weight loss efforts on the fast track to success! For even more ideas on how to stay trim or lose the LBs, check out these 30 Weight Loss Tips Better Than Counting Calories!

1

Keep Your Journal on Your Nightstand…

Some people are creatures of habit and they do the same thing every day. Others go where the wind takes them. But there’s one thing that everyone does every single day: sleep. Keeping your journal next to your bed is a great daily reminder to write down what you ate that day. Bedtime is also your least distracted, least hectic time of day, which means you can’t make the “I’m too busy right now” excuse and can instead reflect on your habits. Oh, and before you hit the hay, whip up a healthy overnight oats recipe for the morning. You can proudly jot one of those down in your food journal tomorrow!

2

…or Write as You Go

If totaling up the day’s eats seems like an overwhelming task, try doing it step by step. Quickly writing down what you ate right after a meal or snack is a more manageable way of writing your food journal. Plus, writing it in the moment allows you to more accurately portray exactly what you ate and how you felt about it.

3

Make it Travel-friendly…

Whether you’re a minute-by-minute or before-bed journaler, make sure you get a notebook that’s portable. Having a journal that you can take to work or on vacation is essential since it allows you to stay consistent and prevents you from falling off the health wagon. If you buy a big, heavy journal, you might as well kiss your weight loss progress goodbye as this opens up a whole host of excuse possibilities. A compact, lightweight journal is just as easy to keep in your bag as a wallet! For more really simple weight loss ideas like this one, check out our list of 50 Best Weight Loss Tips.

4

…or Go Digital

These days, there are tons of apps out there dedicated to helping you track your weight loss progress. They function the same way as a food journal: they allow you to document exactly what you ate, when, and how much. A recent study out of Northwestern University found that those that tracked their eating on a mobile device were more likely to lose weight than those who did not. Not many of us carry a journal with us everywhere, but most of us have a smartphone glued to our pocket 24/7, making this the most convenient way to dive into food journaling.

For more smartphone-inspired weight loss, check out these 50 Best Chia Seed Recipes on Instagram.

5

Get the Picture

A recent study out of a nutrition clinic in Columbia found that those who take weekly pictures of themselves are more likely to lose weight than those who shy away from the lens. Get the picture? Taking selfies can help make you skinny! Try adding pictures of yourself to your diary or add them to your digital food log. They’ll serve as motivation and reward since you’ll literally be able to see the changes in your body!

6

Be Specific

Being specific is probably the most important aspect of keeping an effective weight loss journal. It’s easy to say “I had a sandwich for lunch,” but if you want to get the most out of your words, write down word for word what you ate that day. After all, a small, whole wheat sandwich is totally different than a meatball sub, but both could be considered “sandwiches.” When you’re writing, focus on portion size, time of day, environment, and how you felt before, during, and after eating. This will give you insight into your eating patterns in the long run and can help you make small interventions for a big change over time. And don’t forget to list what you drank that day! Drinking your calories is on our list of 50 Little Things Making You Fatter and Fatter.

7

Get Emotional

Part of being specific is being emotional. You don’t want to simply write about what you ate, you want to write about how it made you feel. If you notice that you reach for a bar of chocolate every time you fight with your husband because you feel sad and stressed, then perhaps next time you’ll be more likely to go for a run when things get tense. It’s not going to be a perfect science, but it will point you in the direction of healthy habits. For more healthy habits, try these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried.

8

Be Honest

You may feel guilty about the pizza you had today and you might not want to write about it, but that’s the point! Being totally honest in your writing allows you to notice your eating trends and pick up on your feelings around food so that you can take actual steps toward tangible change. A recent study from journal Appetite found that those who felt guilt around food were more likely to overeat and gain weight in the long run. Allowing yourself to fully address those feelings of guilt (or anxiety or sadness or whatever you’re feeling), could help you develop a better relationship with food over time. You will never reach your goals if you can’t face the facts. The pen can be mightier than the sword (and by sword, we mean fork)—but only if you let it!

9

Try a First Draft for Your Next Day

Once you’re in the habit of jotting down everything you’re eating and drinking, consider taking a moment at the end of the day to draft your next day’s munchies—minus the vices and other stuff you wish you weren’t writing down. So that you don’t get too confused with the order of things, put these drafts either on a new page of paper (that can be torn out if you want) or at the bottom of your current day. You may find that this small act of predicting and planning your meals will help you make even better, healthier choices!

10

Set a Date

We’re proposing a new kind of date night: a date with you and your journal. Logging your food every day is great and all, but it won’t actually do anything until you sit down and face the truth. Try to meet once a week with your journal and reread everything you have written. Notice patterns, notice emotions around food, notice cravings, and more. Try to find places where you can intervene to set yourself on track for weight loss success. Try these craving interventions to get started!

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The Old-School Weight-Loss Tool That Always Works

Photo: Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

Anyone who has ever been on a weight-loss quest knows what it’s like to get wrapped up in the latest diet trends or to be dropping tons of money on the newest health gadgets. Forget all those fads-there’s one super-simple and effective weight-loss tool that’s been around for decades, and it’s stood the test of time for good reason: It works.

A new study shows that using a food diary is the tried-and-true weight-loss hack that still continues to work. (Related: 10 Women Share Their Best Weight-Loss Tips)

Why Food Journals for Weight Loss Work

I’ve been using a form of food journaling in my practice for years because I see the results.

It can be a powerful way to build an awareness of habits and noting progress over time. One of the first things I ask a new client is how they feel about tracking their intake. While many are on board, it’s not unusual for someone to say, “I tried it, but it took too long.”

New research shows food journaling doesn’t have to take an eternity to be effective, though. The study published in the journal Obesity explored how 142 subjects enrolled in an online behavioral weight control program self-monitored their diet. Throughout the 24 weeks of the program, participants engaged in an online group session led by a dietitian. They also tracked their food intake. All participants were given a goal for calorie intake and percentage of fat from calories (less than or equal to 25 percent of their total calories). The amount of time they spent logging (or food journaling) was tracked electronically.

Turns out, the most “successful” participants-those who lost 10 percent of their body weight-spent an average of 14.6 minutes on self-monitoring by the end of the experiment. That’s less than 15 minutes per day! You’re probably spending five times as long mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds or swiping left or right on a dating app.

What’s meaningful to me about this research is that the authors used both an educational component and a self-monitoring tool to help people develop an awareness of their habits, and then use what they learned to create behavior changes. This can help build resilience and confidence over time, which can help someone stay on track for the long term.

Tracking your mood and how it relates to what you’re eating can also be illuminating. Jotting down how you were feeling before and after eating or adding details about your eating environment or your dining company can also show how other things impact your choices.

So, Should You Keep a Food Journal?

While a food journal is an old-fashioned concept, there are many ways to apply it to a modern-day on-the-go lifestyle. For someone who is working toward a weight-loss goal or who wants to stay on track with making lifestyle changes, a food journal can be a very mindful, tangible tool. Yes, it can highlight areas where you’re struggling (those office doughnuts, perhaps?), but it can also show you what’s working (you packed healthy meal-prep lunches every day).

One big barrier that keeps people from trying food journals is the fear of judgment. Many people don’t want to log a food or meal they don’t feel “proud of,” whether they’re sharing it with anyone else or not. But I’d encourage anyone to stop looking at foods as good or bad, and rather, use food logs as merely data that can be used to inform your decisions.

For example, rather than saying, “I ate a doughnut for breakfast-WTF is wrong with me?” you can say, “Okay, so I ate a doughnut, which is mostly empty calories from sugar, but I can balance that out by making sure my lunch has plenty of veggies and protein so my blood sugar can be more stable and I don’t get hangry.”

While there are clearly many weight-loss and health benefits to using a food journal, there are some people who I wouldn’t recommend this tool to. There are people who find that tracking what they eat can trigger an obsessive mindset or kick up dust related to a past eating disorder or disordered eating behaviors. (See: Why I’m Deleting My Calorie-Counting App for Good)

Work with a dietitian to find identify another strategy that will still help you stay on track with your goals, but won’t set you off.

How to Use a Food Journal

The most important thing you need to do if you want to be successful at keeping a food diary? Make it a part of your everyday routine-that means making it convenient!

If carrying around a notebook and pen sounds like too much, you can use your phone. I’m a big fan of tracking apps where you can log food and activity, and I actually use an app with all my clients for their journaling as well as messaging and video sessions. Even the Notes section or a Google doc can work well. (You can also consider downloading one of these free weight-loss apps.)

The study participants were encouraged to track throughout the day (aka “write when you bite”) and to glance at their calorie balance for the day as a way to help them plan ahead and avoid accidentally going overboard.

However, if you find it works better for you to log everything at the end of the day, as long as you can remain consistent, go for it. Try setting an alert on your phones as a reminder to track.

Whatever your weight-loss tracking method of choice, just make sure it’s realistic, healthy, and works for, not against your lifestyle.

  • A food journal is a built-in mindfulness tool to check in with yourself on how you feel before, during, and after you eat.
  • A new study published in Obesity found that tracking what you eat takes less than 15 minutes a day when done regularly.
  • Logging foods can help you lose weight by informing your choices for the future.

Let’s start with some honesty: Keeping a food journal seems like a drag. Scribbling on a notepad amidst friends — “Was that seven croutons or eight, Karen?” — can feel awkward after every meal or snack. But in reality, logging what you eat really can help you lose weight and take a lot less time than you may think, according to a new study published in Obesity.

In the first month of a weight-loss program, the 142 participants took an average of 23 minutes per day to log the foods they ate. By the sixth month, it only took 14.6 minutes. Plus, people who logged their food at least twice a day were more successful at losing weight than those who did it once — and the three time per day-ers lost the most.

Does keeping a food journal help you lose weight?

Yes. Tracking what you eat at each meal or snack can help you improve your health and lose weight for two major reasons.

First, you’re accountable to an observant yet nonjudgmental party (the trusty food log). Consistently logging your food helps you consider why and when you’re eating and how hungry or satisfied you feel. This record-keeping can help you have a more positive relationship with food in general. It draws your attention to food-related pitfalls that may have previously thrown you off-track and gives you the information you need to move forward from a place of honesty.

The second reason why it works is that provides you with a wealth of information about you. You’ll learn more about both the foods you enjoy (and don’t enjoy) plus the places and situations that you find yourself eating. It can help you notice any negative feelings related food, and identify why you might be eating for reasons that have nothing to do with how hungry you actually felt.

Sofie DelauwGetty Images

How do you write a food journal?

Just try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself while you adjust. If it feels challenging yet manageable, it’s likely to be beneficial. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next. And keep in mind that it’s not forever. Food logs can tell you a lot whether you do it daily for a year or daily for today.

Pen and paper is a tried and trusty way to do it, but it may not be realistic for you. Try writing in a note on your phone, taking pictures, or using an app. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt — both free — are two of the most popular ones. Fitbit also has a food tracker built into its app. To start:

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Log foods as soon as you can. The key to nailing the whole food journaling thing is to actually record what you’re having at the exact moment you’re having it. But since that’s not always realistic, don’t fret. If you can take a quick pic of what you’re ordering or a meal before you eat it and fill in the details after-the-fact, that’s okay too.

Write down where you’re eating. Most of us don’t eat every meal and snack in a dining room on a table with a tablecloth. Keeping a physical or electronic record of where you eat will help you become aware of your current habits and the scenarios that impact them.

Thank about how you’re feeling or what you’re doing. Reviewing patterns is helpful for finding ways to make specific changes, like if you always reach for a snack when you’re stressed at work. Could you try a different form of stress-relief, like going for a 15-minute walk to clear your head?

Consider when ate “filler” over flavor. Let’s say you ordered a burrito at lunch. Did you need the wrap, rice, beans, guac, cheese, sour cream, all the salsas, and steak? Or, were you super full afterward, slugging through your afternoon in a half-asleep food coma? Next time you’re in the mood for Chipotle, ordering a burrito bowl instead could help move the needle toward your weight-loss goals by giving you flavor with less filler.

Note what you may have “missed” at any meal. Did you order a bunless burger at lunch today and ultimately down the contents of a cereal box while watching TV after dinner? Could you try adding in extra fiber to your lunch and see how you feel tomorrow? If you skip meals or skip satisfying components at a meal, you’re likely overeat later on.

Use your food log as a library. It’s a go-to list of your favorite items to order, the restaurants where you picked salad when what you really wanted was pizza, great recipes you enjoyed, and which options or modifications left you feeling satisfied, not deprived.

Be honest. If you’re using a food log but not being totally truthful in your entries, then it’s no longer working as a tool for you. The only person who has to see it is you. Start from a realistic place and make gradual changes. Habits are a result of the choices you make consistently.

Are food diaries effective?

A food journal holds you accountable and creates a personal reference guide that can inform your future choices and, ultimately, your habits. However, it’s not for everyone. If you know you’re susceptible to obsessive eating patterns or food phobias; have a history of an eating disorder; or if for any reason at all a food log makes you feel guilt, shame, or fear, then this isn’t for you. Keeping track of what you eat is supposed to help you stay mindful and accountable — not bad about yourself.

Whatever inspires you to show up for yourself and for others, do that, and do it consistently. If a food log helps you make positive lifestyle changes, then that’s 15 minutes of your day well-spent!

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

9 stress-free steps to keeping a food journal

Keeping a food journal (the right way) could be the key to reaching your health and fitness goals.

Breathe Fitness / Getty Images

Food journal — blech. Just the phrase is enough to conjure images of yourself slaving over a food scale and frantically writing in a notebook. Though food journaling seems like an arduous task, it doesn’t have to be, and it can even propel you toward your health goals if done properly.

Food journaling is a great way to make yourself more aware of what you’re consuming on a daily basis, and it can make weight loss — or weight gain, or even weight maintenance — efforts much easier. Food journaling can also help people who have medical conditions that require attention to diet, such as diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. And, it can help guide discussions between you and your doctor about potential medical conditions.

Here are nine tips to keep in mind when logging your food, plus five great food diary apps so you can ditch the notebook and save some time.

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1. Write down everything — even if it’s ‘just a taste’

You can log all the meals and snacks in the world, but if you don’t log the small, unsuspecting tidbits of food and drink you consume, your food journal won’t be accurate.

Examples: You’re baking a new dessert and dipping your finger in the batter every so often to make sure it tastes good. You swipe a donut hole every time you walk by the break room at work. You usually drink black coffee, but today you decide to add creamer.

To make sure your efforts support your goals, such as weight loss or muscle gain, jot these things down as they occur. A good tactic is to write it in your phone’s notes app transfer it to your journal later. You can pretty easily estimate these kinds of small tastes. For example, if you decide to add half-and-half to your coffee, you can base your entry off of the serving size for half-and-half: one tablespoon is 20 calories. If you think you poured more, note that.

In the long run, 20 calories of coffee cream won’t make or break your food journal, but continually snacking and not logging will result in inaccuracies that leave you wondering why you haven’t reached your goals.

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2. Be honest and specific

Write down exactly what you ate, not a version of what you ate to avoid uncomfortable feelings. For example, if you ate fried chicken strips, don’t just write “chicken.” That’s unspecific and won’t help you in the long run.

It definitely won’t help if you’re trying to track your macronutrients, because “chicken” and “fried chicken strips” have very different macronutrient profiles.

You should also write down the amounts of food you eat. For example, don’t just write “oatmeal with bananas.” Write “quarter-cup of rolled oats with half a banana.”

3. Get to know serving sizes

If you’re not already familiar with serving sizes, you should measure foods precisely for the first few weeks of food journaling. It’s probably a good idea to invest in a food scale if you’ve never tracked and logged food before, because underestimating portion sizes is easier than you think. You don’t need anything expensive — a basic food scale from Wal-mart or Target will do the trick.

After a while, you can start eyeballing your portions instead of measuring everything out. For instance, 3 ounces of protein is about the size of a deck of cards. A 2-tablespoon scoop of nut butter is about the size of a ping pong ball. One teaspoon is about the size of a dice.

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4. Take photos

Human memories aren’t as great as they’re made out to be. Our mental filing cabinets are actually super susceptible to inaccuracies and forgetfulness, and it doesn’t take long to trick yourself into believing a lie.

That’s why you should take photos of your food in addition to writing things down in your food journal. Visual evidence is the most accurate evidence, plus it’s fun to look back and see how your eating patterns have shifted over time.

The See How You Eat food journal app focuses on taking photos, rather than logging words. This is a great approach to food journaling if you find yourself forgetting to write down the details.

See How You Eat / App Store

5. Log the three Ws: When, where and who with

What time did you eat, where did you eat, and who were you with while eating? These things all have a big impact on how much we eat and what kinds of food we eat.

I, for one, am very aware that I tend to eat much more if I’m sitting on the couch versus sitting at the table. Perhaps this is because the couch is a less formal setting, and I feel more relaxed there. I also know that I tend to eat less when I’m in the presence of others, probably because I’m distracted and talking and enjoying the company.

6. Write down what you were doing while eating

Just like the three Ws impact how much and what we eat, mealtime activities also affect our choices. People love to sit in front of the TV with dinner or snacks, and eating with no distractions seems so boring. But scientists think that distracted eating may make you inadvertently eat more than you need (or even want). Writing down what you’re doing while eating can help you understand your eating patterns.

7. Track your moods

I eat when I’m bored or stressed. My best friend eats when she’s sad or lonely. Everyone has different coping mechanisms for different emotions, but I’m willing to bet that you, too, eat in response to a particular emotion.

In fact, emotional eating is a legitimate health concern. Paying attention to your moods and how they affect the types of food you eat can help you discover other ways to cope with emotions.

When and where you eat, as well as with whom you eat, can affect how much you eat and what you eat. Logging these details can help you identify eating patterns later on.

Tom Stewart / Getty Images

8. Log how you feel before, during and after eating

This tip is not so much about emotions, but about how you feel physically. Before you eat a meal, write down how you feel. What’s your energy level? Does your digestion feel normal? How focused do you feel?

As you eat, note whether anything changes. When you finish your meal, log how you feel immediately after finishing, 30 minutes after, and a couple of hours later. This trick can help you identify any food sensitivities that might be upsetting your digestion.

9. Do it right now

I don’t mean to sound pushy, but don’t rely on your memory after a long day. If you jot things down in your food journal right after you eat, the entries will be more accurate. Plus, it’ll seem to take less time — logging one meal might take 5 minutes, whereas logging all of the day’s meals at once might take 30 minutes or more.

Food diary apps to help

If you have the time and energy to log your food by hand, you are envied. Most people struggle to get through their work and home to-do lists, let alone add food journaling to the mix. To make things a bit easier — and quicker — try one of these five food tracking apps.

The MyFitnessPal dashboard breaks down your macronutrient intake with a helpful pie chart.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal

With millions of foods in its database and a convenient bar-code scanner, MyFitnessPal might be the easiest way to keep a food journal. After you log your food, the app breaks it down into several nutritional components, including calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, cholesterol and vitamins.

Lifesum

Ideal for those who value simplicity, Lifesum offers macro and calorie counting, as well as meal plans, recipes and a three-week weight loss program. Your Life Score summarizes everything you log in the app for one comprehensive score that tells you whether you’re reaching your goals.

MyPlate

MyPlate by Livestrong.com makes food journaling pretty easy. The app is user-friendly and super accessible, with great Dynamic Type and voiceover features. Your daily snapshot of macronutrients and progress make it easy and fun to keep up with your healthy eating goals.

Cronometer

Cronometer is for data lovers. It offers more metrics and measurements than the average person probably needs, such as more than 60 different micronutrients and cholesterol levels, but it’s worth a shot if you’re really serious about your diet or need to track several health metrics in one place.

See How You Eat

If you want to take the photography route, this app takes the cake. See How You Eat takes the focus away from calorie counting and shifts it to visual portion sizes and colors, which might help you cut calories without realizing it, as well as encourage you to eat more colorful fruits and veggies.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Weight Loss Dietitian Blog

At MyNetDiary, we are passionate about healthy weight loss! We know that in addition to looking and feeling our best, losing weight is important for basic health.

In fact, research also shows that losing even a modest amount of weight, even 10 lbs., is beneficial. Overweight people are at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

We firmly believe that there is no better way to lose weight and keep it off than to consume fewer calories. This idea is not just an opinion, but it is based on scientific studies that have tracked participants over several years.

You can lose weight with any diet — low-fat, low-carb, or any other type — as long as your intake of calories is less than the number you burn. This concept is very important — you can eat the foods you enjoy, so you’ll have the best chance for long-term success.

MyNetDiary does not prescribe any diet plan; it merely helps you to learn how to eat more healthfully and achieve both short- and long-term weight goals.

The very act of recording your daily food intake makes you more aware of your eating habits and helps you make better food choices. A recent study has shown that people who kept a daily food diary lost more than twice as much weight as those who did not record their food intake while dieting.

To lose a pound of fat, you need to lose 3,500 calories

This does not mean starving yourself or going hungry. You can burn 500 calories a day by eating less and exercising more, burning these 3,500 calories in about a week. Or, you may prefer to lose weight more slowly, losing 200 or 300 calories a day.

This raises the issue of the dreaded calorie counting.

Manual calorie counting is quite boring and requires a lot of time and willpower. Most of us simply can’t do it manually. Typical diet software and the online food logs are not much better. Most of them are slow, cumbersome, and equally time consuming. We believe calorie counting got all the bad press because of these issues and not because it doesn’t work!

MyNetDiary is different. MyNetDiary was created by some of the best programmers who used to work for largest U.S. companies, designing state-of-the-art software. Yes, we know our craft. And we made sure to create the best calorie counter and food diary in the world. Our system is so easy to follow, that it takes almost no time to use it. In fact, it makes calorie counting painless. As the cliché goes, you have to try it to believe it. See also MyNetDiary efficacy report.

Best Tools to Help You

We all see and know about the never-ending stream of diet books, fad diets, diet pills, and diet scams. MyNetDiary is different. Our approach is based upon academic research, scientific studies, and advice from practicing dietitians. We don’t promise any miracles, but we promise to provide you with the best tools to help you lose weight healthfully and safely and, at the same time, establish a new healthy lifestyle.

  • We’ve spent several years creating the best food database that has over 1,030,000 foods from the U.S., UK, and Canada, ensuring that you rarely need to enter food labels. With our unique food entry tools, searching as you type, you can enter your daily foods in a matter of minutes.
  • Many people who lose weight eventually regain it. As recent research has shown, group counseling not only helps you lose weight faster, but also helps you keep the weight off. So, we have created an online MyNetDiary Community to connect you to other people who understand what you are going through. MyNetDiary Community gets you the support and motivation to help you stick to your goals. The Community Forum is supported by a Registered Dietitian. There is no need to drive to a meeting or weekly weigh-in since the Community and your support group are online and always available when you need them.
  • We provide free, full-featured, and very easy iPhone and Android applications that sync with the website, giving you the flexibility of using a computer, iPhone, or Android on the go.
  • Calories are the most important factor for weight loss, but to eat healthfully you need to keep an eye on other nutrients such as sodium, cholesterol, saturated fats, calcium, and so on. Unlike various point systems, MyNetDiary keeps an accurate track of 36 nutrients without lumping everything together and calling it a “point.” Point systems used to be easier than actually calculating calories and nutrients, as these simplify the math. This is no longer true. With MyNetDiary, you can easily keep a tab on all nutrients, without any extra effort at all.

Take a look around our website, test drive the website, or download or iPhone and Android applications. You can check out our videos and read testimonials of some of the thousands of people we have helped to lose weight. Read some of our articles below and find out for yourself.

MyNetDiary can help you turn a new page in your life. We’ll do everything possible to empower you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Please read MyNetDiary Library articles on Nutrition, Weight Control and Diabetes.

Try MyNetDiary

Why a Daily Food Diary Is Still the Ultimate Weight Loss Hack

The study, published in the journal Obesity, took a look at how 142 people self-monitored their diets through an online behavioral weight control program over a 6-month period.

Over the course of 24 weeks, they took part in a weekly online group session led by a trained dietitian. Through the program, the participants logged their daily food intake.

The most successful study participants were those who ended up losing 10 percent of their body weight, spending an average 23.2 minutes each day on self-monitoring in the first month of the study period.

By the study’s end at the 6-month mark, that average time had dropped down to 14.6 minutes.

“We were not surprised that frequent self-monitoring was related to weight loss success. We were surprised that 15 minutes a day is all that’s necessary,” lead author Jean Harvey, PhD, RD, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont, told Healthline.

Yes, on the surface, committing to just under 15 minutes to record and hold yourself accountable over what you’re consuming each day doesn’t sound like a lot, but Harvey said the act of self-monitoring can be daunting to people at first.

“Self-monitoring is a pain! You have to try to guess what foods in the database match the foods you have eaten — no small task when you go out to eat for example — you have to weigh and measure food if your estimate is to be accurate,” Harvey said. “You have to take the time to do it, and you have to admit to yourself that you’ve just eaten what you’ve eaten.”

Ali Webster, PhD, RD, associate director of Nutrition Communications at the International Food Information Council Foundation, told Healthline that many people are “afraid to face the reality of what we’re putting in our mouths.”

“It’s easier to dismiss the contribution that regular trips to the workplace candy stash or second helpings at dinner can have on our waistline if we’re not confronted with seeing it written on paper or tracked in our phones,” Webster, who was not affiliated with the study, told Healthline. “Many people also see monitoring the food we eat as ‘just another thing’ they have to think about during the day, or another task that chains them to their computers or their phones.”

Nevertheless, Webster said, this study shows that the time commitment required for this kind of self-monitoring is pretty minimal.

“We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t spend at least 15 minutes mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram every day,” she stressed. “Why not redirect some of that time toward a productive, healthy habit?”

Why does self-monitoring help? Harvey said that calorie counting is one of the effective strategies out there to manage your weight. She said that it is highly likely people who self-monitored in the study were more aware of just how much they consumed. As a result, they probably were more successful at sticking close to their initial “calorie goal.”

Pixdeluxe / Getty Images

Keeping a food diary is a great way to take a look at your eating habits including what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you eat. It can also help you identify possible food intolerances, and if your goal happens to include losing a few pounds, a food log is a great weight-loss tool. In fact, starting a food diary is often the first thing registered dietitians ask their clients to do. The simple act of writing down what you eat can help increase self-awareness, which may lead you to make healthier choices, explains Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition.

In order to make sure you’re getting the most out of creating a food diary you want to make sure you’re keeping tabs on the right things. Here are the six things registered dietitians tell their clients about food logging.

Related: How Bad Is It To Eat Carbs At Night If You’re Trying To Lose Weight?

1. Set up a method that works for you.

Take your lifestyle into consideration, explains registered dietitian Jenny Beth Kroplin. “There are many online tools, apps, and handwritten versions of food journals and trackers that can be quite helpful.” If an app like MyFitnessPal is your jam, go for it. If you’d rather not see the calories, try jotting your food down in a note on your phone or using a good old-fashioned notebook.

If you’re a visual person, a photo food journal is another good option. “I say focus on making calories count instead of just counting calories alone,” says Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D., L.D.N. “For some people, taking pictures of their meals and reviewing them at the end of the day is a better way to do this because they can actually see if there is a balance. Look for a variety of food groups and colors, and pay attention to portion sizes.”

2. Consider recording times and emotions, too.

If you’re setting up your own food journal (instead of using an app), there are a few details you’ll want to write down. “The key elements for documentation are spaces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus two to three spaces for snacks, a space for exercise, and a space for behavior or feeling,” says Kroplin. Logging how you feel when you eat can help you identify emotional hunger cues. “For example, say you jot down that you felt angry when you ate 10 cookies at 4 P.M. A week later, you read your diary and find that you ate those same 10 cookies every time you felt mad. By identifying that habit, you can correct it and start a new, healthier habit,” says Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition.

Recording the time you eat can also be helpful—personally, when I started logging my food, I noticed that most of my mindless snacking happened after dinner. After recognizing that, I started eating more filling dinners with protein and fiber to keep me full and away from the munchies in my cupboard.

3. Start by writing things down as you eat them.

“Make a commitment to log items right after you eat them,” suggests Pine. “If you wait until the end of the day, you’re probably more likely to forget accurate portion sizes and not include small tastes of food, beverages, and condiments.” Plus, after a crazy day at the office or running around, logging everything you ate that day can just feel too overwhelming to bother with.

4. And vow to be completely honest with yourself.

“If you aren’t honest with a food journal, the only person you’re hurting is yourself,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. Even though it’s tempting to only log the good stuff, hold yourself accountable for writing it all down—even the things you’re not thrilled with. *”*Record 100 percent of what you eat—every beverage and every little nibble (even from someone else’s plate) needs to be accounted for.”

The 3 best food journals for diet & weight loss

Based on my research and experience, I think the best food journal for most people is the Life & Apples Journal on Amazon. It’s sturdy, well-designed, and has some great in-depth tracking options for calorie counting, weight loss, and fitness journaling.

However, having a really good calorie counting app on your phone is a lot more convenient and practical these days! If you’re looking for an on-the-go option, you can’t do much better than MyFoodDiary — it’s extremely robust, easy to use, and accurate!

Read on for some more options and to learn how I chose my picks.

Getting into shape can be frustrating.

Sometimes you feel like you’re exercising and eating well, but you’re just not getting to where you need to be.

That’s where keeping a food journal comes in!

Really good food journals help you track what you eat and drink, how you feel, and even sometimes what exercises you’re doing.

Why is that important? Tracking this information can help you see what food mistakes you might be making. Plus, a 2008 study found that people who keep food journals lose 2x as much weight as people who don’t.

If that sounds like exactly what you need, here are my top picks for the best food journals:

  • Best Budget Food Journal: Daily Food Journal (Amazon)
  • Best Mid-Range Food Journal: Fitlosophy Fitspiration Journal (Amazon)
  • Best High-End Food Journal: Life & Apples Food Journal (Amazon)
  • Best Calorie Tracking App: My Food Diary

Document

Image Product Details
Daily Food Journal
  • Simple & lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
Check on Amazon
Fitspiration Journal
  • Sturdy & durable
  • Mood tracking
  • Excellent value
Check on Amazon
My PickLife & Apples Journal
  • Tons of pages
  • Eco-friendly
  • In-depth tracking options
Check on Amazon

Nicola Knobel

Right, I was hesitant to write a post about weight loss – and especially nervous to write about it in my bullet journal! It was like a Bridget Jones diary of weight loss! I wasn’t really prepared to put my thoughts on paper in a weight loss diary. I was in DENIAL! I was also really scared about writing about it because of all the body shaming stuff that happens. Yuck. So this is step one in a series of posts about weightloss fitness and other things you can pop into your bullet journal

Starting the weight loss bullet journal journey!

So let’s go back a couple of decades. My mother. Bless. Was morbidly obese. I was blessed with skinny genes and she always commented on it and commented on my height and weight and gave me positive reinforcement.

This was great! But at the same time, I was alsp really conscious of the fact that one day, my metabolism might give up on me and my luck might run dry.

Fast forward to February 2019 – I went to put on my jeans and surprise – they DID NOT FIT! At all. I almost put a hip out trying to juggle myself into them. Yuck. I looked in the mirror and it was clear. I had put on weight. But not having a scale in the bathroom at home meant that I had no idea how bad the situation was. On the “Jean-fitting scale” – it was bad.

I found a scale later in the day and hopped on. FFS. FML. 20kg over my usual weight. I had been 76kg from 18 to (insert my old age now). Now I was heavier than some rugby players!

NO! I didn’t admit it to myself at first and now here I am – September – writing about my woeful story on weight loss. Or the start of of my weight loss journal.

Admitting I needed a weight loss diary was the hardest!

Now the reason I was nervous to even admit that I was in fact way to unhealthy to even talk about, was, the grief online personalities get for talking about weight and weight loss and all that other stuff. I get it. My mother was obese.

So I am sensitive to that, and loving myself the way I am, but the fact that I can’t run, or climb a flight of stairs without huffing is not healthy nor good.

Luckily I bullet journal – and this means I had the tools and ability to track meaningful change. So in about July, I started tracking my health over tracking weight loss to see how I was feeling and what foods triggered me to eat more. What I discovered was that – while I was still eating really well, a lot of plant based diet, I was doing little to zero exercise. Granted being a single mom doesn’t help you come up with good fitness time!

The exact weight loss and fitness bullet journal template I used to get back on track!

We have created this really simple weight loss template for you to print! This weight loss printable is perfect for your bullet journal and helps spark some ideas about what to track, when to track it and how to track your weight loss journey. It also has space to talk your fitness and how to track your fitness in your bullet journal.

Let’s talk about some key questions I asked myself when I decided to get real with myself about the fact that I needed to lose weight.

Using a new notebook for weight loss journaling

Having a separate bullet journal for weight loss and tracking my fitness was also something I wanted to do, so that I could laser focus in on the stuff that kept me motivated and what didn’t! I also wanted to keep a diary of my weight loss journey and how it affected my mood and energy levels. I found this weight loss diary extremely confronting because I have never had an issue with weight before until now.

Something that made it really easy for me to track workouts and to track the weight loss, was through using simple planner stickers. As a result these helped me to easily track workouts and fitness goals in my bullet journal! You can see how I used stickers to track these fitness goals in the video below!

I also wanted to add some prompts about weight loss journaling Ideas, so in the bullet journal weight loss template I created – I added in some clever prompts to get you thinking a little more out of the box!

As I got through this weight loss journey in my journal, I am sure I will share more lessons! I will definitely be doing a future post on calories and food – we have a couple of great posts about meal planning, but this is more for budgeting reasons and not for fitness reasons, but it could also work for that. So another post I will be doing is one on meal planning for fitness and weight loss in your journal.

Q: How can I start Fitness Journaling

Well start today. Personally I am a Monday start person. Therefore things usually stick when I start them on a Monday, so make it a start date that works for you. Being fit isn’t just about being at your goal weight. As a result, for me, it is definitely not just about weight loss, it’s about how I feel physically. How puffed am I, after walking up stairs? How far can I cycle with my son? It’s the small things.

Q: What sort of weight loss journals can I use to track my weight loss journey?

There are so many amazing weight loss journals on the market at the moment, many of them focus on well being and not just focusing on fitness journaling or weight loss.

One that I personally love, is the happy planner inserts, you can get a 6 month extension pack which can help guide your workouts and focus over 6 months. A couple of others probably include plum paper, and Erin Condren!

Q: How can I track my workouts in my bullet journal?

It depends what part of the workout or fitness regime you are wanting to track in your bullet journal. You may want to track minutes you exercise, or if you have a fitbit or wearable you can use the data from that in your fitness tracking. Usually, if using an app, you can also track your calorie burn and other really clever things from the data you might get from the workout apps.

Q: How can I start a weight loss journal?

Simple! Just start one! You don’t need much from what I have gathered and tracking things that are not relevant might just make you unmotivated to keep a weight loss journal.

Furthermore, all you need is a pen and paper right. And some things you might want to keep a record of your weight loss journey!

Likewise, if you do not want to set up a whole new weight loss journal or fitness tracker, you could just include it as a page or layout in your current bullet journal. It could very well be a page or layout at the front or the back of your monthly bullet journal set up.

So here is my video on how to make and keep and weight loss journal!

Finally we get to the good part! Have you been wondering how to make your own weight loss journal tracker in your bullet journal? The way I set up my bullet journal for weight loss was as follows:

  1. How was I going to achieve my core weight loss goals and track them through to completion?
  2. What were simple things I could do to maintain my weight loss journey?
  3. Are there any specific sorts of exercises, work outs and fitness should I be tracking in my journal?
  4. What is the best way to create a bullet journal weight loss spread?

Getting Real! Setting up and maintaining a weight loss bullet journal with fitness trackers and layouts

71+ Featured weight loss bullet journal layout ideas:

I can find a ton of amazing bullet journal weight loss ideas that can really help get you motivated to get back into shape!

So here are just a few bullet journal weight loss and fitness layouts, that I thought you might like to see. Take inspiration from them. Do not use them as competition.

Take control of your weight loss journey. Start today with these amazing featured fitness, work out and weight loss bullet journal layouts!

We have taken the guesswork out of creating new fitness spreads in your bullet journal or happy planner by dividing the styles up into

  1. Weight Loss and exercise dashboards
  2. Quotes and Fitness Goal layouts
  3. Weight Loss trackers
  4. Exercise and workout trackers
  5. Step Trackers

Weight loss and exercise dashboards for your bullet journal

@emeraldaccents

@simplebujos

@isabelhoops

@lifebywhitney

@rleplans

@boho.berry

@squairdplans

@the.petite.planner

@the.petite.planner

@the.petite.planner

@simplebujos

@craftyenginerd

Quotes and Fitness Goal Trackers

@thevintagehausfrau

@erinflotodesigns

@aplanninglife

@lifewithniabudgetandplan

@plan.read.bloom

@according.to.ali

@squairdplans

@kimberlymakesplans

@squairdplans

@the.petite.planner

@squairdplans

@jashiicorrin

Weight loss Trackers in your Bullet Journal

@the.petite.planner

@nisha_lovesplanning

@the.petite.planner

@doodledaydarlings

littlemissrose

@the.petite.planner

@bulletjournalnoob

@nisha_lovesplanning

@the.petite.planner

@doodledaydarlings

Exercise and workout trackers for your bullet journal

@bujowithbecky

@emeraldaccents

@timeabujo

@pyhobby.bujo

@dotted.plans

littlemissrose

@bujorach

@all.in.a.notebook

@chardangerfield.art

@plansandpumpkins

@hellobonjournal

@manayiiin

@craftyenginerd

@shelleys.bullet.journal

@littlemissrose

@rleplans

@myinkproject

@hellobonjournal

@the.petite.planner

@plan.read.bloom

@squairdplans

@squairdplans

@squairdplans

@plan.a.gram

@the.petite.planner

@the.petite.planner

@haleyjournals

@shelleys.bullet.journal

@visionarymarj

@teaandcreate

@artsunami

@cloakandplanner

@diystudying

@doodledaydarlings

@thejournalingteacher

@happie_jenn

@jordanhowardjournals

@type_c_organizer

@plansarahplan

@jordanhowardjournals

Step Trackers in your bullet journal

@jashiicorrin

@artsunami

@marianeofcysn

@jashiicorrin

@southernteetime

Weight loss food journal

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