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Keeping a Food Diary

Fitness for mind and body.

Keeping a food and fitness diary is an organized way to learn about your daily eating habits and compare them with a scientifically proven, healthful eating plan: the Food Guide Pyramid.

Open Diary

A diary also is a helpful way to track your daily exercise and compare it to the activity levels recommended by the Surgeon General to improve the health of Americans. If you'd like to keep a separate workout log, feel free to print the Workout Log we offer. (A new window will open)

Following are quick-and-easy steps for creating a personal food and fitness diary, as well as helpful hints for making it a successful tool.

How to Create a Food and Fitness Diary

List each day of the week down the left-hand side of an 8-1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper. Across the top of the page, make seven columns and label with the following food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, meat/protein, and dairy. In the next column put fats, oils, and sweets, and in the final column, daily exercise.

For each serving of food you eat throughout the day, place a checkmark in the box of the corresponding food group. For each 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, place a checkmark in the exercise box of the corresponding day.

At the end of each day, compare the number of servings you ate to the number of servings recommended each day by the Food Guide Pyramid. The groups and recommended number of servings include:

  • Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta -- 6-11 servings
  • Vegetables -- 3-5 servings
  • Fruit -- 2-4 servings
  • Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts -- 2-3 servings
  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese -- 2-3 servings

Fats, oils, and sweets -- use sparingly

The Surgeon General recommends adults should devote 30 minutes or more to moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Therefore, you should have at least one checkmark in the exercise column of your chart each day. Examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include:

  • 30-minute brisk walk
  • 30 minutes of lawn mowing or raking leaves
  • 15-minute run
  • 45 minutes of playing volleyball

Helpful hints for a successful food and fitness diary

  1. Be realistic and be honest. There is nothing to be gained by trying to look good on paper. You can only improve your lifestyle habits if you record and see what you are really eating and doing physically.
  2. Keep accurate records. Record what you eat and how much you exercise on all days -- not just days you feel like being healthy.
  3. Analyze what you eat. At the end of each day, take a look at what you ate. If you find the number of servings you consumed is different from the number of servings recommended by the Food Guide Pyramid, consider what adjustments you can make for the next day.
  4. Do it now. Do not depend on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating and exercise as you go.

Remember small steps are better and more sustainable than giant leaps. Increase your exercise slowly and try to develop one new healthy habit a month.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.