Health Advice



Environmental Nutrition: Starting a food diary

Kristen N. Smith, PhD, RDN, LD, Environmental Nutrition on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: How can I get started with keeping a food diary?

A: Dietitians and other practitioners regularly encourage patients to utilize a very simple, yet often very effective, tool in their path toward their individual health goals — keeping a food diary (or journal).

Food diaries can be used in weight management, tracking blood sugars, or in working to identify potential food allergens, and this process can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. If you’re just starting out, here are some of EN’s favorite tracking tips:

Make a plan (and stick to it). Write out your meals and snacks before eating them to see how each eating occasion will fit into your daily goals.

Note the small details. What time did you eat? Where was the meal or snack consumed? Can you identify any specific moods or feelings before, during, or after? Tracking can help draw attention to potential patterns and triggers of behavior.


Be consistent. Keep your food diary for at least a week and try not to skip the tracking of any meals or snacks.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.

©2023 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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