Day 26: Keep A Food Diary | 30-Day Weight Loss-athon

It’s time for Day 26 of the 30-Day Weight Loss-athon.

All tasks in the 30-Day Weight Loss-athon are adapted from my 52 Weight Loss Missions program.

Read the steps first, then take 10 minutes to complete them.

Move fast, act quickly and stop over-thinking. Ready?

What You Need:

Step 1

First, let’s work out why we should keep a food diary.

Here are several excellent reasons.

  • People often underestimate how much they eat – so this is a great way to get real.
  • Having to write down what you eat can help arrest mindless eating – and mindless eating can be a major factor in overeating.
  • It can feel very rewarding when you fill in healthful, weight-loss-friendly choices – so that’s some nice positive reinforcement
  • Tracking your food can give you helpful weight-loss insights into problem foods or problem times of day
  • Writing down everything you eat can suddenly reveal ‘invisible’ calories you never acknowledged before – such as tasting while cooking, finishing kids’ meals, the true extent of snacking (you ate 25 cashews, not just a few).
  • Research shows that tracking your food intake can enhance weight-loss success.

Importantly, keeping a food diary is not meant to make you feel bad; it’s meant to give you information.

Step 2

Next, let’s decide where to keep your food diary. Choose one, or experiment with several to find one that fits seamlessly into your life.

You could:

  • Use a small notebook or food diary you can keep in your purse. Keep a pen handy so you can jot down your entries wherever you are.
  • Download one of the many apps available on smart phones. Search food diary or food tracker in the app store. Note: you don’t need to use calorie-tracking functions unless you want to.
  • Use the Interactive Diet & Exercise Diary from your 52 Weight Loss Missions Action Pack. Use the interactive features to enter text from your computer or iPad, or print it out and write by hand.

Step 3

The key to using your food diary successfully – so it aids your weight loss – is to leave nothing out.

These tips will help:

  • Use it every day, for everything you eat. I’ll say it again so there can be no misunderstanding: Everything you eat.
  • Record your entry immediately after eating, so nothing is forgotten. Make this a habit.
  • Be descriptive, saying small, medium or large; number of items, spoons, cups; etc.
    For example:

    • Medium apple
    • 1.5 chocolate bars
    • 25 cashew nuts
    • Large bowl of cereal
    • Small skim cappuccino.
  • Include the method of cooking – baked, grilled, fried, etc.
  • Remember to include sauces, spreads, dressings, condiments, etc.
  • Include drinks (juices, tea, coffee, alcohol), and their sizes. For coffee and tea include added milk, sugar, syrups, etc.
  • Be sure to record everything – meals, snacks, tasting while cooking, finishing kids’ meals, etc. If you think you don’t eat much, this may be eye-opening – and therefore useful information in your weight-loss success.

If you already keep a food diary, what will you do differently?

If you don’t, will you start today?

Check in!

And you’re done!

Be sure to leave your comment below to check in and stay accountable. If you’re reading this by email or in a reader then please click here to leave your comment.

See you tomorrow!

Michele Connolly

Michele Connolly helps people move from procrastination to action. She believes that taking action on your priorities makes you a happier person. Michele is the founder of Get Organized Wizard and creator of tools for business, home, and personal organization. Her programs are used by tens of thousands of people worldwide.

59 thoughts on “Day 26: Keep A Food Diary | 30-Day Weight Loss-athon

  1. Amy Egley Saville says:

    This is something I started doing a couple weeks ago and I’m already seeing results from it. Just tonight I wanted to snack for no reason but because I thought about the place it would hold in my food diary and the calories it’d add on I was able to overcome the urge to snack and just drank some water.

  2. Jane Kisler Mooney says:

    A food diary is very helpful, but I know I need to get better at figuring out what I need to eat (or not eat). For me, it can’t be about what I want to eat, but what I need to eat to feel better. The problem is you can never get away from food……

  3. Karen H. Phillips says:

    My food diary is on My Fitness Pal, which I’ve maintained since this first week of this challenge, and so far, it’s helped me a lot! I’ve lost three pounds and have become very conscious of what and how much I eat. I feel great and have even splurged some in a few special cases (ice cream sundae and burger and fries–exceptions, not the rule!).

  4. Sherry Sue Williams Bryant says:

    Oh my, never really though of writing down the spoonfuls that I sample as I cook. But I can see now why some times I’m not very hungry at meals, but still eat anyway. I think this challenge will show me more than I may want to see. So I WILL write EVERYTHING in my journal starting with my morning water & coffee today.

  5. Gwen Thring says:

    I’ve done this in the past for children with allergies when doing food challenges but never thought of doing it for myself. I know I’m pretty good most of the time but how many cups of coffee or cocoa do I really have on a bad day?

  6. Natalie Howard Tschacher says:

    I’ve tried this method before and all it did was depress me because I realized how much I was eating, or how little on some days! But I’m willing to give it a try again, just have to find that first food journal, I know it’s in my nightstand with all my other little notebooks.

  7. MC McLain says:

    Got sidelined with bronchitis and an injury for a week. I do use the Sparkpeople app though I’ve been hit or miss food tracking, only doing exercise tracking. Will start tracking again. Good news is I’ve gone to the gym the past two days, and even started the water aerobics class (which promptly kicked my butt!) to try to bust my plateau.

  8. Terri Hanson-Scott says:

    Using the app…..I do know that it is easy to say medium when it is large. To add to my kitchen – I think these tools would be good: A good scale that is on the counter to weight my portions. Also, containers/spoons/etc that are a specific measure. If I can’t find them, I will have to take some of the ones I have at home and measure what they actually scoop.

    Thank you for another great day!


  9. Angela M Frasca says:

    still tracking my food intake and exercise using one of the phone apps recommended by the nutritionist. Paying closer attention to all of the stats for the foods I eat. Helps to view stats for foods I plan to eat and modify plans as needed based on what the app tells me the food will “cost”.

  10. Ann Isom says:

    Having done this before (with another weight loss program), I can honestly say they do help but you can’t help feeling like they scream out what you are eating to the world (I know they don’t but there have been times when it feels like the spotlights on you) It IS helpful to be able to look over what you’ve eaten and “fine tune” your plan so (sigh…) this will be picked up again and scrutinized accordingly finding flaws and fixing them!

  11. Dana McGuire says:

    I know tracking your food works because I used to do it religiously with another weight loss program. But…I stopped doing it and regained most of the weight I had lost. 🙁 I’ve been logging my food on SuperTracker on since I started this challenge and it really does make a difference in my food choices. There have been times that I started to mindlessly snack, but remembered that I would have to log the food and changed my mind. 🙂 When I think about skipping a day and not logging my food I think back to my real motivators that I listed on the first day of the challenge and it helps me to get my focus back.

  12. Irene Fitzpatrick says:

    Now that birthdays are over for the time being, I’m going to stasrt the healthy meals/cooking next Monday. As I spend a lot of time on here, I’m going to start a weight loss blog complete with food diary. Just trying to think of some clever name for it……….uuuuuhhhhh……mmmmmm……

  13. Marla Forgues-Kostis says:

    I started using MyFitnessPal at the same time I started this challenge, so I am already doing this. It’s working great, and being aware of the calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol in a food when I eat it has definitely helped me make better food choices. For example, when I went to an open house the other day, I was able to turn down cookies that I knew were calorie and fat-laden in favor of some I liked better that were much healthier. In turn, my weight is decreasing enough that acquaintances have commented on the change. I’m very happy about that!

  14. Denise Barrett says:

    I used to do this previously and then I had stopped, but I know I have to start it again. I stick to my calories alot better when I am writing them down and I will never go over my allowance but since I have stopped counting and recording my calories, my weight is slowly creeping back on. I was just thinking today that I need to start keeping track of what I am actually eating, I jump on the internet and it is todays mission. Very timely indeed. I previously used My Fitness Pal but I am thinking I am just going to write it down as I love using paper and pen.

  15. Shirley McClure Huckleberry says:

    I actually write down (actually I use MyFitnessPal) BEFORE I eat so if my calories/fat are a bit high for what I am about to eat, I cut something back. Maybe do 1/4 cup of avocado instead of half. Keeping track this way has totally changed the way I eat. In&Out Dbl Dbl Animal Style, oh yeah, 670 calories 41 grams of fat 1440 mg of salt, oh no. I’d have to walk for 2 hours to come close to burning that puppy off. HUGE reality smack.

  16. Jean Hino says:

    This will be a challenge, but I’m willing to try as last night all I wanted to do was EAT. Not a good plan. Did have some self-control and only ate 1 chocolate and 1 cookie.

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