The top 10 mistakes you're making when food journaling

Updated: Mar 29

...that may hinder or stall your progress.

Today we’re chatting about all things food journaling. In my professional opinion, food journaling is an incredibly valuable tool when used properly, to show clients what they CAN have vs. what they cannot. However I know that a lot of people have anxiety around using a food journaling app, whether due to bad experiences with one, or because they find the learning curve with them to be overwhelming. We’re going to fix that today!

I personally like to use the “Cronometer” app with all of my clients- it has verified, reliable entries and it doesn’t push out extremely icky messages like, “if you ate this way for 10 days, you would lose 12 pounds”. More often than not these come up when my client is drastically undereating, so I am really not a fan. The tips below are based on Cronometer, but most can also be applied to apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose It.

Read on for my top ten tips to make your journey with food journaling impactful and stress free!


1. Not accurately measuring and instead eyeballing food portions

Let’s use peanut butter for this example: there is a huge difference between what you THINK a tablespoon looks like, what your “tablespoon” measurement looks like and what a 16g serving (the “tablespoon” measurement on the label) ACTUALLY looks like. Can you eat more than 1 tablespoon of nut butter? Hell yes! Should you understand your serving vs. portion size? Also hell yes!

2. Logging generic entries like “Chicken Sandwich”

Putting generic entries in is one of the biggest mistakes I see my clients making when food journaling.⁣ Think about it: we're trying to gather data. If we don't know what's in that random/generic food, it's not helping us. Take the extra :30s to look at your food and enter ingredients separately- it can make a big difference in your day as a whole! I promise this will make your macro tracking journey more effective in the long run.⁣

3. Not entering alcohol as carbohydrates or fat

Alcohol is borrowing precious, otherwise useful macronutrients from your daily diet and we need to account for them in some way. Log alcohol as carbs or fat so that you know whether you need to skip the bun on your burger or butter on your bagel that day.

4. Not separating entries into meals throughout the day

This drives my type A side crazy that it’s only available in the premium version of Cronometer, but I digress. If you have this function, USE IT. We can gain valuable insight by knowing when you ate which foods, rather than seeing a jumbled lump of ingredients in your diary.

5. Not utilizing the “multi-copy” function and “copy previous day” functions

Notice those three dots on the top right hand side of your diary? USE THEM! They make your life so much easier. You can copy individual meals, single ingredients, or entire days and save minutes of your precious time.

6. Using the journaling app’s calorie calculations vs your own/your coach’s

IT IS NEVER CORRECT. EVER. Algorithm’s don’t know you, boo. Use a qualified dietitian or download my free guide, how to calculate your macros without a coach.

7. Entering foods over and over vs. building a recipe

Why make life harder? Take the extra 5 minutes to create a recipe once for foods you eat often. You’ll thank your former self later.

8. Forgetting about the barcode scanner

One scan vs. endless searches trying ot find a specific product? In my experience, 70-80% of the packaged foods I eat are in Cronometer’s database and if they’re not I can create them! It’s a win, win.

9. Logging incomplete days/weeks

There are multiple problems with this. Number one: you’re likely skipping the days or the meals each day that are your “trouble spots”, sort of negating the journaling purpose. Number two, if you are utilizing the weekly summaries (which you should be), this totally throws off your averages. Commit to a time frame of journaling and stick to it, EVERY DAY.

10. Not pre planning your day/week

This, folks, is THE most important tip. If you are logging as you go without thinking ahead, you will likely be playing macro tetris at the end of the day trying to figure out what you can eat with 35g of protein, 15g of carbs and 0g of fat left. And it won’t be fun! Pre-planning your days the night before or morning of saves you so much time, stress, and having to eat gross franken-meals.

That’s it- my ten tips for success! Which one resonated most with you? Which do you need to try ASAP?

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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Natal Corrective Exercise Specialist

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