DIY Food Journal Benefits: How a Simple Food Diary can Change Your Life

Last Updated on October 30, 2021 by Candi Randolph

I used to think, “food diary? keep track of everything I eat?? DIY 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.

DIY food journal benefits

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.

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.

Why A Food Diary is so Effective

DIY 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. DIY 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 DIY Food Journal Benefits

A DIY food diary, you say? Oh, it’s like that friend who’s brutally honest about your dating choices but in the world of eating habits. Why bother keeping one? It’s not just about tracking every leaf of lettuce or piece of chocolate (though, admit it, we’ve all had days where the chocolate column is a tad longer). There’s a heap of glittering benefits that come with jotting down your daily eats.

First off, it’s like holding up a mirror to your eating patterns. Ever find yourself wondering why you’re feeling sluggish or why that pair of jeans feels a bit snugger? A quick flip through your food diary might just reveal the culprit (looking at you, sneaky late-night snacks). It’s all about spotting trends, like if you turn into a ravenous beast after skipping breakfast or if dairy is the secret saboteur behind your afternoon bloat.

Then, there’s the accountability factor. Knowing you’ll have to write down everything you eat can make you think twice before reaching for that third cookie. It’s a gentle nudge towards making healthier choices, not because you’re being hard on yourself, but because you’re becoming more mindful about what you’re putting into your body.

But wait, there’s more! A DIY food diary also doubles as your personal nutritionist (minus the hefty fees). It helps you check if you’re getting a rainbow of nutrients or if your diet is more beige than an ’80s office. Are you hitting all the marks for vitamins, minerals, and those all-important greens? Your food diary will lay it all out.

And for anyone trying to untangle the mystery of food sensitivities or allergies, a food diary is your detective best friend. By tracking what you eat alongside any symptoms, you can identify patterns and pinpoint triggers. Say goodbye to playing the guessing game with your stomach.

Lastly, it’s empowering. Seriously, there’s something incredibly satisfying about taking control of your health and seeing the positive changes that come from small, consistent efforts. Whether your goal is to lose weight, boost your energy, or just feel better in your skin, a DIY food diary is a simple tool that packs a punch.

Remember, the goal isn’t perfection but progress. So, whether you’re a pen-and-paper person or there’s an app for that, start chronicling your culinary journey. Who knew a little diary could be such a game-changer in living your best, healthiest life?

A few more compelling reasons to track your eating habits in a food diary

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. πŸ™‚

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.

It can be difficult to remain motivated, encouraged, and feel supported when you’re trying to establish a healthy habits and lose weight. Did you know that your smart phone can be a very effective tool for accomplishing your goals to live a healthier life? Learn more about MIGHTY HEALTH, the healthy lifestyle app created for women and men over 50

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!

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 πŸ™‚ ) 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, DIY 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!

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How a simple food diary can change your life.

14 thoughts on “DIY Food Journal Benefits: How a Simple Food Diary can Change Your Life”

  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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

    1. 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

  3. 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.

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

  4. 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!

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

  5. 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!!)

    1. 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!

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