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Track Your Intake

How to Keep a Weight Management Diary

Start by printing a blank Weight Management Diary. Below, we have provided the diary in PDF format, as well as instructions on how to keep a diary of your dietary intake.

Image of a food diary

Recording your intake is a powerful weight management tool. By recording you can identify patterns and problems that lead to overeating and weight gain. Keeping an eating diary can assist in locating problem areas and identify where specific changes can be made to deal with them. Most important, keeping an eating diary shows you how much you are actually consuming.

Weight Management Diary Instructions:

It is best to record your intake at the time of consumption or as soon as possible thereafter. Waiting until the end of the day to record may cause you to forget some items that may make a meaningful difference in your weight. Plus, if you’re trying to keep to a certain calorie level, you won’t know how you’re doing until the end of the day, when it’s too late to change your intake for that day.

Time: Record when you eat, rounding off to the nearest 15 minutes. Include a.m. or p.m. This will allow you to see if you tend to overeat at certain times of the day or when you’ve gone too long without eating. The WMC recommends eating a meal or snack every 2 to 4 hours, trying to avoid going more than 4 hours between meals and snacks.

Food and Amount: Record everything you consume. Include all beverages that contain calories, as well as condiments (mayonnaise, etc.). Err on the side of over-reporting. Remember, every bite counts, so log everything.

It is important to also indicate the amount of each item you are consuming. The most accurate way to do this is by actually weighing or measuring the food items you are consuming with measuring cups and food scales. For instance, an apple may be small, medium or large; ice cream may be measured in cups; meat in ounces; and a soda in fluid ounces.

Exchanges/Calories: This column can be used to tally exchange servings or calories. Our WMC patients have been educated on exchanges and track these each day, but many of you are more familiar with calories. Recording exchanges or calories in this column is strongly encouraged so you can keep track of your intake; however, if you don’t have access to exchange/calorie information at the time of your meal/snack, still record the food and amount, filling in the exchanges/calories later. Note, you can keep a running tally of your exchanges in the boxes at the top of each day’s diary.

Exercise and Duration: Tracking physical activity is another way to monitor progress with weight management. Write down any physical activity above and beyond your normal lifestyle activity along with the minutes. If you wear a pedometer, make sure to log your steps taken everyday. 

Weighed and Graphed: Weighing yourself and graphing your weight daily is another tool that has been shown to help you manage your weight. Tracking your weight on one of our weight graphs will give you an accurate picture of your weight trends over time. Download and print you weight graph. Please keep in mind that multiple factors affect your weight, so today’s weight doesn’t necessarily indicate whether you did a good job yesterday…however, yesterday’s food diary does.