Food Log

Food Diary Instructions Study

We are asking you to keep a food diary so we can copy what you eat while you stay in the hospital. Here are instructions on how to complete the food diary. If you do not have the food scale with you, please use your ruler to estimate the width, length and height of the food.

Time: The time indicates how often you eat.
Location: Was the food eaten at home, school, bus stop, car, restaurant?
Food/ beverage name: Please name and describe your foods as completely as possible.

Include brand names and any special information on the package ("reduced sodium," "1/3 less calories")

Type & preparation: Write legibly each food item on a separate line.
Record the size, amount, content & preparation of all food
Include nutritional and ingredient labels for as may foods as possible.
Please date the label so we can tell when you ate the food.
Record the following features of each food:
• form (salted, unsalted, sweetened, unsweetened, fat-free)
• how it was purchased (fresh, frozen, canned)
• place of preparation: home or restaurant (e.g., Wendy's, Perkins)
• preparation method (boiled, baked, fried, creamed)
• Added fat, salt, coatings, marinades, was the skin eaten?
• preparation directions: from mix (list brand and ingredients added) or "scratch" (bring in home recipes)
Amount eaten: Please record only the amount you actually eat. If you are served 1 cup of peas but eat only half the serving, record "1/2 cup peas". Record 2nd helpings.
• Use the scale provided to weigh all solid food.
• You can also use household measuring cups and spoons. If using these, remember to level the measuring cup or spoon.
• For fluid ounce measurements, please label as "fluid oz" to distinguish from weighed ounces.
• List weight from label of individually packaged food (e.g., 1.75 oz candy bar)
• Record common units for foods with standard portions (e.g., 1 slice bread, 1 large egg, 1 large banana)
Condiments: Condiments count, as they add flavor, calories or salt!
• Please record salt added as "number of dashes of salt"
• Please record added butter or margarine in teaspoons or tablespoons
• Please record added mustard, ketchup or other condiments
Beverages & Liquids: Beverages can affect calcium homeostasis as well, so please keep track of what you drink.
• Please record the fluid ounces consumed
• Please record whether beverages contain caffeine
• Please record brand names and any other details so we can copy your usual intake of beverages during your hospital stay

Sample Food Diary


Using the Food Scale

  1. Use the scale for measuring food that is hard to measure with measuring cups. Some kinds of food that may be easier to measure with the scale than with a measuring cup are:
    • baked or boiled potatoes
    • cheese
    • pizza
    • fresh fruit or vegetable pieces that don't fit easily into a measuring cup (wedge of cantaloupe)
    • meat, chicken and fish
  2. Before weighing, make sure:
    • the scale is on a flat surface like the kitchen counter.
    • the black or red line on the scale is on 0 (zero). If not at 0, use the black dial at the back of the scale to reset the scale to zero.
    • if using a digital scale, remember to zero the scale by pressing the "Tare" or "Zero" button.
    • For food safety reasons, weigh meats after cooking, and note on your food diary that you are recording cooked weight.
  3. To read the scale correctly, squat down so you are at eye level with the red line on the scale.
  4. Note that the scale has a weight limit. If your food weighs more than the limit, you will have to cut it into two parts, and measure each part by itself.
  5. The scale can measure weight in ounces or grams. Each line on the left side of the scale represents 1/4 ounce. Record your weight to the nearest ¼ ounce. Each line on the right side of the scale equals 10 grams. Record your weight to the nearest 10 grams. Please be sure to make a note on your food diary whether you are recording ounces or grams!
  6. You can weigh your food in the bowl on top of the scale, or you can use a clean plastic container or paper plate. Glass or metal containers are not good to use as they may be too heavy for the scale.

    Example 1: To weigh a slice of pizza

    • Place a paper plate on the scale. With the black dial on the back of the scale, set the scale to zero.
    • Place the pizza slice on the scale and read the weight to the nearest 1/4 ounce or 10 grams. Record weight on the food diary.

    Example 2: To record the weight of uneaten food (like the crust of pizza)

    • Using the black dial on the back of the scale, and set the scale to zero.
    • Record the weight of the leftover pizza crust and the plate to the nearest 1/4 ounce or 10 grams.
    • Record the weight of the plate alone to the nearest 1/4 ounce or 10 grams.
    • Subtract the weight of the plate from the weight of the pizza crust and plate to get the weight of the crust.
    • Subtract the weight of the pizza crust from the weight of the pizza slice (from example 1). This is the weight of the pizza that was eaten. Record this weight on the food diary.


    Example 3: To weigh a piece of steak on a paper plate

    • Put the plate containing the steak on the scale. Set the scale to zero, using the black dial on the back of the scale.
    • Record the weight of the steak and the plate to the nearest 1/4 ounce or 10 grams.
    • Record the weight of the plate alone to the nearest 1/4 ounce or 10 grams.
    • Subtract the weight of the plate from the weight of the steak and plate. Record this weight on the food diary.
  7. If you have any questions about the use of the food scale, please call the Hansen team at (608) 263-0517. Thank you!

Helpful Hints

Please brint the food diary and scale with you to your next visit

  • Use ruler to measure the length, width and height of foods when you are uncertain of the weight or amount (especially when eating out).
  • Remember to include dashes of salt and added condiments/butter.
  • Remember - One item per line
  • Ask the wait staff at a restaurant or get clues from the menu if you are unsure about the content of the meal
  • Make a line on the outside of a plastic cup to mark difference fluid ounce levels and reuse the cup. This makes it easy to measure the amount of beverage you drink.
  • Cut out nutrition and ingredient labels of packaged foods and attach to diet diary.
  • Include recipes for things made at home (ie. Meatloaf)
  • Remember to include all beverages, including water
  • Remember to include all supplements taken each day

General Instructions (pdf version)

Food Log forms