How a food tracker changed my life
Eating Well Healthy Living

How a Simple Food Diary can Change Your Life – Food Journal Benefits

(Last Updated On: September 2, 2019)

I used to think, “food diary? keep track of everything I eat?? food journal benefits?? who has time for that???” So, I just let that little idea fly right out of my head and didn’t give it another thought. Then, about a year ago, things started changing with my midlife body and it was affecting not only how I looked, but how I felt.

I started to research how a woman in midlife, like me, could keep a steady weight and reduce the belly fat and bloat that is so incredibly annoying at this stage of life.

I’ve never been a big eater, at least not with portion size. I’m a grazer…multiple snacks throughout the day in small quantities, with a reasonable dinner. So although I never kept track of what I ate, it always worked for me. Until I hit my 60’s.

That’s when all this nonsense started with the weight creeping up on me, the belly fat starting to accumulate around the middle, things seeming to drop closer to my feet…all very normal, of course, but I was resistant to the thought of saying, “oh well, that’s just life”. So I decided to do something about it.

As I was researching how to live happily into my 60’s and beyond with a healthy lifestyle and not gain weight around the middle, there were several consistencies that arose, and one of them was a food diary. I’ll share what happened as I sip on my coffee this morning.

DIY Food Journal

Fast forward several months and the result was twofold:

  • an eating plan that I created to take control of the belly fat and,
  • a simple weekly food diary

So I not only embraced the idea of tracking my food intake, I ultimately created an entire program, Midlife Magic, that is available for free.

My simple DIY food tracker is set up on a weekly plan and is kept the old fashioned way, with paper and pen. This system works for me and is a wonderful visual of what the day and week has been like in terms of food intake, exercise and hydration.

Pssst…want to do something about that belly fat? I’ve got a plan…

Why A Food Diary is so Effective

Food Journal Benefits, Healthy Food Journal

For me, the simple act of writing down what I eat makes me more conscious of what I am consuming, because I’ve made the commitment to myself to honestly record my food intake. Food Journal Benefits 101, my friends.

Actually, there is evidence that simply writing down what you eat can help you reach certain health goals faster, including weight loss.

So at a minimum, a food diary will make us aware of everything we eat in a day, which can be a real eye-opener! And ultimately, if weight loss is the goal, a food tracker can be a game changer for success.

How a simple food diary can change your life: healthy food journal benefits

1. If you commit to recording your eating habits, you could very well learn why you eat when you’re not hungry. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us (my little paw is raised high) have done this more than once.

The key to understanding this ‘why’ is to go one extra step and write down how you are feeling when you reach for that snack. As you continue to record your food habits and feelings, a pattern will most likely emerge.

Once you have this knowledge, you have the power to change that habit and redirect those emotions away from food, or at least to a more healthy option.

2. Another light bulb moment when keeping an honest food diary is discovering how much you are really eating. The key is to be honest with yourself – that means no cheating – and actually write down everything you consume. Even those quick little ‘walk by’ snacks.

I have learned to discipline myself from mindless snacking and grabbing ‘just a bite or two’ of something, by counting out a serving per the package contents (or whatever I am choosing to eat), then taking that single serving out of the kitchen to eat. When it’s gone, it’s gone. No more.

At least that way I know exactly what I have consumed. For me, that was a game changer.

3. Include a weekly selfie with your food diary. Studies have shown that those who take weekly pictures of themselves are more likely to be successful with their healthy living goals, including weight loss.

4. Plan ahead. I do this quite regularly with my food journal. I’ve found that by thinking ahead and planning what I’m going to eat the next day, even a portion of the day, I’m more likely to stick with my intentions.

Sometimes life gets in the way and I end up eating differently, and that’s okay. I record what I actually ate that day. Tomorrow is a new day. 🙂

5. Set aside time once a week to review your food diary, particularly your emotions as you selected the food you ate. (A perfect reason to record those feelings!) Learning to recognize the trends will help you make the adjustments needed.

Here are a few other helpful tips to ensure success with a food diary:

  • Remember to date your notes and food journaling, particularly if you are not using a form or an app.
  • Don’t forget to record your beverages, too. All of them, including alcohol.
  • Record your meals and snacks in time blocks. This will help to keep things simple and encourage you to continue, and it also will point out patterns and trends discussed above, positive or not, as you go along.
  • Keep your food diary in a place that is convenient for you. That’s why a prepared form to use or a phone app is so very helpful!

Need a journal? You’ll only find these here, in my shop, Inspirations

Use a Simple Food Journal App to Track Your Food Intake

eat-bio free food journal app

I was recently introduced to the Eat-Bio food diary app, so have been experimenting with it over the last week or so. It is a great way to keep a food diary wherever you are throughout the day, and this food journal app is completely free.

In it’s simplest form, Eat Bio lets you record your daily food intake in 3-hour increments. You can save and re-use food and beverages (like coffee 🙂 ) that you consume regularly.

What I really like about this simple food journal app is just that…it is very simple! You don’t have to worry about counting calories, uploading images of food, scanning of bar codes, or trying to follow the latest diet craze.

The Eat-Bio app includes two in app upgrades if you want to also track nutrients such as sugar, carbs, protein, and more. This could be a very handy way to keep an overall watch on certain nutrients that are significant for your particular health or eating plan

Another advantage of using an app like Eat-Bio is the ability to download your data.You might want to have it handy for a doctor appointment, or for your own regular review.

You’ll find FAQ’s that provide much more information and inspiration on using the Eat-Bio app

The only thing you do is record what you eat. And that, my friends, can be a very important first step toward a more positive self image and healthier living!

Ultimately, food journals in any form are very personal tools for self development.

Unless you choose to share the information with another person, it’s really all about you. You’re the boss. You are in charge of yourself and your food intake.

If you choose to embrace the concept of a simple food diary and remain committed to it, and to yourself, it can literally change your life. There are so many food journal benefits!

Well, the coffee is long gone now, and I’m off to record the cookie (low carb of course!) that I enjoyed along with it. 🙂

Candi Randolph Midlife Blogger


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How a simple food diary can change your life.

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14 COMMENTS

  • Susan Lindsley

    Good tips. I have been working out but have not taken the plunge yet with getting serious about food tracking. I did download an app but haven’t tried it yet either. Just making some swaps for now and trying to pay attention to what I am eating, for now. I know I need to really be stringent about it to see any progress. Getting older did not help! Good luck to you!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Hi Susan, I agree that progress comes in small steps and it’s hard to make many changes at one time. It sounds like you are on a good path!

  • Hi Candi, I recently kept a food diary to help a dietitian friend starting out. It was surprising how I thought twice before I ate something because I didn’t want too many ‘naughty’ foods in my diary. I’ve discussed Emotional Eating and keeping a Food Diary during #ActiveApril on my blog. By recording your mood in your diary, how you felt when you ate it can also show up some hidden issues as to why you are reaching for food. This is a great post and I agree when I write something down I remember it and it is also there glaring me in the face! Have a great weekend and good luck with the Self Development Course. xx

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Sue, we do think along the same lines many times! I agree that with food tracking I want to be honest with myself so it makes me think twice before I mindlessly eat something. Hope the move goes well! xo

  • Christina Daggett

    Hi Candi. Thanks for the great info about the food diary. This is a great idea for not only tracking how much I eat, but the types of foods I’m taking in and what kinds of foods to eat more of and what I should cut back on. Glad to see your post on the Friday share, with Sizzling Towards Sixty.

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Christina, it is a wonderful way to learn more about not only what we eat but why. Good to hear from you!

  • Elizabeth

    I love food diaries. I’ve just idly ploughed through seven oatcakes at the cost of more than 300 calories and I’d never even noticed it. Time to get mine back out!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      I know…that’s why I find that tracking my food is so helpful…it makes me think about what I’m doing!

  • Lisa

    This is great, Candi! I really think I’m going to do this. I have been wanting to be more mindful of my eating. I tend to snack throughout the day and it definitely adds up. I’ll probably check out the app because it’s sounds so convenient and simple! Thanks for the suggestion! And for this super helpful info!! (Your blog is looking SOOO NICE!!)

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thank so much for the compliment on the blog, Lisa, much appreciated! And I think you’ll find that tracking your food intake will really help you be more mindful. It does work!

  • Maria

    I have not heard of this app, I have been using LoseIt, but your option looks really good too!

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      Thanks Maria, consider giving it a try and see what you think!

  • I totally agree that a food journal can make a big difference. It’s shocking all the little extras we eat over the course of the day if we’re not thinking about it. Great tips.

    • Candi Randolph
      AUTHOR

      I know, it is quite surprising if you are honest and write it all down! Journaling my food intake changed how I eat. Thanks for stopping by, Julie 🙂

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