Common Journal Pitfalls

Food logging is one of the most important tools we can use in weight management. It provides a clear picture of how closely the nutrition plan is being followed and helps guide us toward making better choices, both in the moment and in what we plan for future meals.

But there’s a catch – food logs are only as useful as they are accurate! If food journals don’t reflect what was actually consumed, then it can be easy to feel frustrated by a lack of progress. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, this tends to happen to all of us at one time or another. There are two common causes for this situation, both of which are highlighted below using our imaginary patient: Joyce.


Joyce has been a CoreLife member for 9 weeks and at first saw significant results. But for the past three weeks, her progress has stalled. Her calorie goal to lose 1-2 pounds each week is 1150-1250 calories per day, and while her logs show that she has been in that range each week, she isn’t seeing the scale move at all! A sample day of her log is in the first column of the table below (in blue). Joyce reviewed her food log with her CoreLife Registered Dietitian, who discovered two issues with Joyce’s logs that are hindering her progress.

Common Cause #1: Missing Items

It’s very common to miss items when food logging, whether it was that slice of cheese on a sandwich, the sauces added to food just before eating, or a glass of juice that accompanied a meal. If we miss logging these once in a while, it may not add up to much, but missing them every day and all week can slow or halt our weight loss progress.

In the second column (in orange), we can see how Joyce missed enough items in her original log to put her calories just over her goal instead of just under like she had thought. Be careful to add everything that you eat or drink that has calories to your log to keep this from happening to you.

Common Cause #2: Portion Size and Item Accuracy

A log can also be mistakenly inaccurate when you do record an item, but it isn’t exactly what you ate. This can happen by entering the wrong amount or serving size, but it can also happen by forgetting to be specific about how the item was prepared (ex. 1 chicken breast vs 1 fried chicken breast). Similarly, if we aren’t paying attention to the portions being logged, it’s easy to underreport what was consumed (ex. logging 1 serving of cereal vs 1.5 or 2 servings).

In Joyce’s case, she underreported a few items during the day, and didn’t specify the method of preparing two parts of her dinner. The third column (in yellow) shows which items she logged inaccurately. This actually makes a bigger difference than the items she had missed altogether.

Common Journal Pitfalls (continued)

For Joyce, looking for these common logging mistakes revealed over 700 calories that she hadn’t realized she was consuming. If this happened every day for a week, it would be the difference between maintaining her weight and losing 1.5 pounds.

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK: Put on your detective cap and take a look at a few recent days from your logs. See how many hidden calories you can uncover and use that newly trained eye to keep your future logging as accurate as possible. As always, if you have any questions, your CoreLife RD is here to help

Joyce’s Food Log

Original LogCaloriesMissing ItemsCaloriesPortion Size/Item CorrectionCalories
1 cup cheerios1001.5 cups cheerios150150
4 oz 1% milk506 oz 1% milk7575
1 hard boiled egg6363
2 cups salad greens4040
3 oz grilled chicken1074 oz grilled chicken143
2 tbsp Italian dressing804 tbsp Italian dressing160
1 tbsp bacon crumbles2929
2 tbsp croutons3030
1 oz shredded cheddar5555
1 protein bar160160
1 string cheese8080
1 medium apple801 large apple111111
12 oz iced tea8080
6 oz baby spinach406 oz sauteed spinach6868
4 oz tilapia1005 oz breaded tilapia300300
1 baked potato145145
1 oz sour cream6262
Extra Calories+256+450+706
Total Calories1045130114951751

Your CoreLife dietitians can still help review your logged food if you want that extra support with the
app you’re already familiar with!

  1. Log into your MyFitnessPal account
  2. Click: Find Members
  3. Type your RD’s MFP username; select Add Friend
    a. This will send them a friend request to connect the two accounts
  4. Go More –> Settings –> Diary Settings –> Diary Sharing, & choose “Friends Only” or “Public”
    **If you provide your RD with your username they can add you if that is easier. **
    Food Diary Tips
  5. Log as soon as you eat
  6. Log the right foods
  7. Be specific
  8. Be honest with yourself
  9. Log everything you eat
  10. Keep it going
  11. Make it fun
  12. Add in emotions
  13. Anticipate barriers
  14. Review what you wrote

Food Log


Meal Plan “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

DayMeal PlanGroceries Needed