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Manage Your Weight With a Food Diary

woman sitting at kitchen counter writing in her food diary

Sometimes we may think we’re sticking to our healthy eating goals but can’t seem to get the results we’re looking for. One way to pay closer attention to what we’re really eating is to write it down. Experts say people who keep food diaries are more successful in reaching their weight goals than those who don’t.

A food diary doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat, and how hungry you are. If it’s helpful, you can add more information such as who you were with and what you were thinking about while you were eating.

Another way to track your eating habits as well as physical activity is with an interactive website or app. Some programs are free. Look for one that has a big database of nutritional information on food, so that it’s more likely you’ll be able to record everything you eat. Other features to look for include a way to enter favorite recipes, and ways to network with friends to share tips and emotional support.

Over time, you will probably see patterns that help you learn more about your habits. For example, you might discover that you usually crave a snack to get you through the mid-afternoon energy slump. It's helpful to note how you were feeling when you decided to eat, especially if you weren’t really hungry. Were you tired? Lonely? Bored?

If certain situations always seem to cause you to eat the wrong foods or eat when you aren’t really hungry, it might be time to make some changes. When you’re more aware of your eating patterns, you can start to change them.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.