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How to Keep a Food Journal

Writing down what you eat helps you take a critical look at your food habits and make healthy changes. Here are some tips.

Bowl of spaghetti with a forkHector Sanchez

Write down what you eat on three weekdays and one weekend day, using the following guidelines:

  • Record everything you eat and drink immediately.
  • Note what you're doing while you're eating―driving, watching TV, etc.
  • Describe how you felt while you ate: angry, sad, happy, nervous, starving, bored?
  • Be honest. It's a journal, not a newsletter, and no one has to see it but you.
  • At the end of each day, examine how your emotions affected your eating.

Every day, try to make sure that you're getting at least:

  • 9 servings of whole-grain cereal, rice, or pasta (1/2 cup) or bread (1 slice).
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (1/2 cup).
  • 3 servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese (1 cup).
  • 8 ounces of lean meat, poultry, or fish or a nonmeat equivalent (1 ounce of meat = 1 egg, 1/2 cup beans, or 2 to 3 ounces of tofu).

Use the Food Journal Worksheet to keep it all organized.

Read More About:Healthy Eating

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Quick Tip


Juice may serve up vitamins, but it won’t do much to ease hunger: Unlike solid foods, liquids don’t trip the brain’s satiety mechanism. For a more effective snack, pair a glass of 100 percent juice with a few nuts. Get more tips.