Diet Tool: The Food Log

Registered dietitian, wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 Program and expert, Kristin Kirkpatrick, discusses how keeping a food log can increase awareness of what and why you eat, as well as help you lose weight.

Posted on | By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

I've seen it a million times. A client comes to me for the purposes of dietary counseling and amongst the background medical information, favorite foods, allergies, etc, he or she will tell me, "I hardly eat anything at all." The revelations I uncover are usually inconsistent from this original statement. I ask all my clients to complete a food diary for me and when I provide them the results, they are shocked at just how much they actually do eat. Why would these individuals then tell me they didn't really eat much at all? Were they trying to fool me? The answer 95% of the time is no, they were actually fooling themselves.

The problem is, as our busy lives go on, we tend to eat more than we think, we underestimate the exact amount of our daily intake because we fail to take into consideration portion size (they are usually much larger than what we think), grazing (such as taking a handful of jelly beans from a candy bowl), and fluid calories. It is only when individuals are asked to write down everything they eat and drink that the true story is told. The importance of keeping a food diary goes way beyond just the food we eat. A recent study following 1800 men and women over a 6 month time period showed that those that kept a food diary lost 50% more weight than those that did not. So what is the secret? Why did the food diary individuals lose so much more weight than those that did not? Here are few perspectives on why food diaries are important:

Article written by Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
Kristin Kirkpatrick is the Manager of Wellness Nutrition Services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, in Cleveland, Ohio.