Food Record: How to Keep One

Posted June 3, 2015

From the desk of the Registered Dietician: Nancy Nissen, RD, Chief Clinical Dietician

Keeping a journal or record of what you eat can help to break undesirable food-related behaviors. Choose a diary or notebook that you like, one that fits your bag, purse, or backpack, and get started! 

Tips for keeping a food record

  • Write down what you eat, when you eat it or as soon as you are finished
  • Include all snacks, beverages, and “bites”—even if you just grab a cracker on the way to the bathroom, write it down
  • You may want to include your mood, what is going on in your day, or where you are at the time you are eating
  • Remember to document vitamins and medications
  • Write down the time of day
  • Review your journal weekly to see where you can make more progress 

Benefits of keeping a food record

  • Habits become clear—you can see that you tend to become hungry at a certain time, make poor choices in certain places, or drink more coffee than you thought you actually did
  • You gain control and perspective on how well you are really doing with your meal planning
  • You can see progress as time goes on—new behaviors are objectively viewed when days are compared from past to present
  • It becomes clearer where you need to do more work, and patterns and necessary changes become evident in the presence of the collected data 

For the eating disordered patient

  • Match your food record to your meal plan—if you have exchanges set up, it may help to compare them
  • Consider having a two-sided food record, one for planning and one for actual intake
  • Keep your food record separate from personal journals, in case your health care provider would like to look at it 

Example of a food record

Your food record should look something like this:


Day of the Week/Date:


Foods Eaten







8 am

1 cup fiber cereal

6 fluid ounces 1% milk

One banana

Tea with milk


Tired and rushing to work for meeting