Yes. Keeping food records in a meal diary is one of the best strategies you can use if you want to lose weight. If you write down what you eat and drink, you are more likely to succeed at losing weight and not getting it back.

Keeping a meal diary gives you the history of what you have eaten, so if you lose or gain weight, you know why. It helps you identify the problem and solve it. Without having a history of what you ate, you won’t know what the problems are. Food records will help you become a real manager of your weight

When to write in your meal diary

Write down the foods you eat within 15 minutes of eating.
At the end of the day total the numbers for the day on a weekly summary sheet.
At the end of the week add up the totals for the week and get the daily average.

What does a meal diary look like?

You can keep your records in a three-hole binder, a spiral notebook, cards, or whatever form you like it and is convenient for you. The pages in your diary need columns to record the following:

  1. The type of food
  2. Serving sizes –ounces, cups, table-spoons, calories, fat grams, carbohydrates grams
  3. Number of servings of vegetables
  4. Number of servings of fruit
  5. Time you eat
  6. Where you eat
  7. Whom you are with
  8. What is impacting your food choices
  9. Exercise. Physical activity counts. If you have a pedometer that counts calories used in say, walking, make a note of it also medication you take

Keeping a meal diary helps you with your diabetes

When you eat, your blood sugar goes up. Writing down what you eat will make you aware of how much you eat and what you eat. Keeping food records allows you to make decisions about your medication, meal plan and exercise plan.

At the end of the week, you can add up your totals for the 7 days and figure out your average daily calorie, fat intake and carbohydrates.

Look for the relationship of what you eat and how high your glucose level raises. This will provide you with the tools to adjust your meals so they don’t raise your blood glucose but they don’t leave you hungry.

Serving sizes are the key

Knowing your portions is very important because an extra spoon of dressing or a couple of ounces of red meat can make a difference in your weight loss plan. Use a food scale until you have trained your eyes to see correct serving sizes.

Look at food labels. Carbohydrate is what raises your blood glucose the most, so it is important to you whether you are just trying to lose weight or you have diabetes. You also need to pay attention to the grams of fat, especially saturated fat and hydrogenated oils –never buy a product that includes hydrogenated vegetable oils in the list of ingredients.

Final word

Keeping good records takes some practice. Most of us do not enjoy doing it because it takes time and effort, but it is worthwhile. You will benefit quite a lot from doing it.


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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