How to keep a food diary

A “food diary” is the first step towards making better, healthier choices for losing or controlling weight.

Keeping track of what a child eats, how much, and how often, gives us good clues about eating patterns and habits. Trying to remember what a child ate last week is much less accurate that writing it down as it happens. You may be surprised at what your child is eating once you start writing it down!

Points to remember:

  • Include all items eaten or drank, including beverages and snacks
  • Be sure all of the child’s caretakers participate in recording his diet, including day-care, baby sitters, non-custodial parents, visiting grandparents, etc. (You may be surprised what others feed your child.)
  • To get an accurate picture, it is important to keep the food diary for several days (preferably one week.)
  • Try and estimate how much of each food your child eats. Sometimes a child eats a healthy variety of foods but the amount is either too much or too little.

Here is an example of one day of a food diary:



  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • Toast, 1 slice with 1 tablespoon of strawberry jelly
  • Large glass of 2% milk


  • Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Large glass of 2% milk
  • Half of a red apple


  • 1 can of coke
  • 2 cups of potato chips


  • Small baked chicken breast without the skin
  • 8 tator  tots
  • ½ cup of boiled peas
  • Large slice of chocolate cake
  • Large glass of sweet tea