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How To Keep a Food Log


Updated May 28, 2008

Food logs (also known as food diaries or food journals) can serve several purposes: They can be used to help you lose or gain weight, to help ensure you're eating a balanced diet, or to keep track of which solid foods you've introduced to an infant. You can also use a food log to help pinpoint which foods may be causing symptoms of allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. Here's how to keep a useful food diary:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Ongoing

Here's How:

  1. Choose a format that will work for your lifestyle. If you regularly use a PDA or a planner, I recommend using it to keep your log; otherwise, a pocket-sized notebook is ideal.

  2. If you eat at regular mealtimes, you may choose to preset your pages with places to write down the foods you eat and the regular times you eat them. Be sure to leave the facing pages blank in a paper log.

  3. Each time you eat, mark the time and write down every food you eat, including brand names (for future investigation), beverages, and frying oils. Note any garnishes, toppings, or additives. The goal is to be as complete as possible. Do update immediately after eating; this is one of those tasks that is easiest to do after each meal.

  4. If you experience symptoms, on the page facing your most recent meal (or immediately after the most recent meal in your PDA), write down a summary of your symptoms. While your physician is in the best position to determine whether the most recent meal (or, indeed, any food) actually caused the symptoms, this is a good way to keep the log organized.


  1. A food log is not a substitute for the guidance of your physician. Rather, it is a supplement. If your doctor recommends you keep a food log, this is one way to do it.

  2. If you find the journaling process overwhelming, it's better to go a little light on detail than to forgo writing down what you ate altogether. A system you can live with is better than none at all.

  3. If you're keeping track of solid foods an infant from an atopic family (a family with allergic tendencies) is eating for the first time, try marking the first introduction of new foods in some way, perhaps with an asterisk.

What You Need

  • Notebook, Planner, or PDA
  • Writing Implement
Related Video
USDA Food Pyramid Explained
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Food Allergies
  4. Diagnosing Food Allergies
  5. How to Keep a Food Log - How to Keep a Food Diary

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