4 Key Components of a Food Journal

by Gina Crome, MS, MPH, RD on Dec 09, 2013

Food journals can be a great tool to help you lose weight. Journals allow you to document everything you eat in a day in one convenient location. Scientific literature has established that keeping track of what you eat and drink is an effective tactic for making dietary changes.

You can record your food intake on paper or electronically. An effective food journal should include these basics:

  • Date. It’s best to note the day of the week for quick comparisons of weekday and weekend intake.
  • Meal designation, time consumed. For example, “Breakfast—7:15 am.”
  • Food description. Ensure that all food and drinks are listed in detail (brand names, preparation methods, toppings used, and so on).
  • Quantities. Accuracy is very important, so clients should measure everything, preferably with a portable scale or measuring cups. The American Heart Association also offers guidelines for estimating portion sizes (AHA 2013); go to www.heart.org and search for “What is a serving?”
  • Notes. Encourage clients to designate an area in their food journal for recording notes/feelings just before or after a meal. This can help them recognize when they are more prone to unhealthy or unplanned eating, such as late at night in front of the television, after a stressful workday or following an argument with a loved one.

Reviewing your journal occasionally can help you to identify areas where you are struggling and could still use some work.

To view the full article from the November 2013 issue of IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips click here.


AHA (American Heart Association). 2013. What is a serving? www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp; retrieved Aug. 5, 2013.

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About the Author

Gina Crome, MS, MPH, RD

Gina Crome, MS, MPH, RD IDEA Author/Presenter

Gina Crome is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise. She holds a dual Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology as well as a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Loma Linda University whereby she received the Selma Andrews Award for Excellence and Professionalism. Gina has worked to help people seeking to gain a better quality of life for over 20 years. She has struggled most of her life with her own weight, thus allowing her the compassion and understanding for those who are seeking answers. Throughout her career, she has worked with a number of individuals with issues directly affecting their self-esteem and ability to fully enjoy life.