Weight-Loss Software > Printable Food Diary
Printable Food Diary, Finding the Best
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
A printable food diary can be a great help when your doctor or dietitian asks, "What on earth have you been eating?" People's memory for food is notoriously faulty. A diary keeps you honest and provides valuable evidence for diagnosis and treatment.
I used to keep a diary on paper and photocopy it for my doctor—but that was way back in the 1970s. Today, it's best to keep a food diary on your computer, using either a website or software that you install on your hard drive. Besides being faster and neater, this method can show you a lot more about your nutrition.
Here's what to look for in a printable food diary:
Large Selection of Foods
A computer- or web-based printable food diary usually works by letting you choose the items you've eaten from a large database of foods. If it doesn't offer at least 20,000 foods, you may have to spend a lot of time adding foods to the database yourself, by keying in nutrition facts from the labels.
Broad Array of Nutrients
One of the main uses of a printable food diary is analyzing your intake of nutrients. Are you getting too much saturated fat? Too little folic acid? Enough water? These and other questions offer clues to your diagnosis or ways to make your diet more healthful.
Choose a diary that monitors at least a dozen nutrients. Two dozen is preferable. And of course, make sure the nutrient list includes those of particular interest to you.
At the very least, your diary should let you choose whether to print your food list and nutrient analysis day-by-day or for the past week, month, quarter, or year. You should also be able to choose between pie chart and table formats.
Instead of carrying a paper printout to your doctor or dietitian's office, your food diary should let you email the report—ideally, at the click of a button.
A good printable food diary will not only keep track of what you've eaten and its nutrient balance, but also let you make notes about your emotional state, physical symptoms, or other conditions at the time of eating. These can be helpful in diagnosing eating disorders or allergies.
*Terry Dunkle is a 30-year veteran medical journalist and consumer advocate who serves as CEO and chief editor at DietPower, Inc., a leading maker of nutrition and weight-loss software.