Food charts can be a helpful resource for any person wanting to improve his or her eating habits. Creating a chart with a summary of your daily intake can make you more aware of what you are eating as well as assist you in increasing the variety of foods you consume. According to dietitians Marie A. Boyle and Sara Long, people who keep such a record are more likely to recognize unhealthful eating patterns on their own. Whether weight control, management of a condition or health maintenance is your goal, making a food chart can be your first step toward accomplishing it.
Things You'll Need
- Excel spreadsheet
Use Microsoft Excel to create a spreadsheet. Label the rows with the days of the week. Label the first several columns with the meals and snacks you normally eat during the day (i.e., breakfast, morning snack). After the meal columns, create a column for "Total Daily Calories." You can add columns for supplements, vitamins, protein grams and other nutritional information if desired.
Use your journal to record every item of food you eat at every meal and snack during the day. Include drinks, condiments, and anything else you add to your food. Be as specific as possible (i.e., "1/4 pound hamburger on kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, and 1 tsp. ketchup" as opposed to "hamburger"). Since you may not have access to your spreadsheet at all hours of the day, keeping a journal will help you remember to write down all foods as soon as you have eaten them.
Transfer the list of foods from your journal into your spreadsheet under the appropriate day and meal/snack.
Use a website with a nutrition database such as Calorie King to research the calorie content of the items you have listed, then add that information to your spreadsheet beside each respective food. If you are counting proteins, carbohydrates or other nutritional information, research these and add to your spreadsheet accordingly.
Add your total calories for the day and input this number into the "Total Daily Calories" column on your spreadsheet.
Record your foods and daily calories for at least a week in order to familiarize yourself with your eating patterns and determine any changes that may be necessary for improving or maintaining your health.
Tips & Warnings
- Consider recording the specific circumstances of your meals and snacks. This could help you to determine why you eat more or less or prefer certain foods in particular situations. For example, "Lunch with colleagues. Felt stressed. Had chocolate pie even though I don't normally eat dessert with lunch."
- "Personal Nutrition"; Marie A. Boyle et al.; 2008
- University of Virginia: Food Log
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine: Food Log Instructions Study