Why is it Important to Keep a Food Diary?

By Jeanne Karson, CBN, ANP-C

Studies show that keeping a food diary is one of the most successful ways to lose weight. In fact, it has been the cornerstone of many successful weight loss programs. Keeping a food diary will help you to

  • Be objective about what you are eating. We all know that we are not good at food recall. We even hide the truth from ourselves. We may think we are eating one way and in reality, it is very different. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are paying close attention to what you are eating.
  • Create new healthy behaviors and
  • Stick to your weight loss goals.
  • Furthermore, it can also identify issues that you may be having after bariatric surgery.
  • Track autoimmune disease. If you suffer from any autoimmune disease, tracking what you eat and your symptoms helps with compliance. It will also open your eyes to whether certain foods are responsible for flare-ups in your condition, i.e. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, IBS, are just a few.

What you should track in your food diary

Keeping track of everything you eat, i.e. portion side, snacks, carbohydrates/sweets and when you eat may surprise you. It is definitely a motivational tool to stick to your plan when you have to account four your daily intake.

It’s of particular importance to also include the times you eat, whether or not you are allowing long intervals between meals which may predispose you to binge eating. You start to see the pattern in your eating behaviors, both good and bad.

In review-a basic food diary should include:

  1. Times and meals of snacks
  2. Portion sizes and description of food
  3. Feelings associated with food
  4. Are you feeling satisfied with meals?
  5. Are you eating at home or dining out regularly?


After bariatric surgery, changing old eating habits may be difficult but can be accomplished with some work. A food diary is probably the best tool that will keep you accountable for what you eat and help you to stay motivated.

I ask all my patients to start a food diary at the very start their journey with us. It is time consuming to write it all down, but many of you have computer-based tools that can make it easier.



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