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Printable Food Diary

What Are your Kids Eating?


Updated August 06, 2008

A food diary can be a great way to keep track of the calories your kids are eating, especially if they are overweight, and to make sure that they are getting enough fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, etc., from all of the different food groups.


In recording what your kids eat and drink on a food diary, you can make sure they aren't getting too many calories. It can help to understand how many calories they actually need each day though. In general, kids who are:
  • 1-3 years old need about 1,300 calories each day
  • 4-6 years old need about 1,800 calories each day
  • 7-10 years old need about 2,000 calories each day
  • 11-14 years old (boys) need about 2,500 calories each day
  • 11-14 years old (girls) need about 2,200 calories each day
  • 15-18 years old (boys) need about 3,000 calories each day
  • 15-18 years old (girls) need about 2,200 calories each day
This Calorie Calculator can provide you with even more precise information about how many calories your child needs each day based on their age and activity level. Of course this assumes that your child isn't trying to lose weight.

Food Groups

Although a food diary is usually used to keep track of calories and limit calories when trying to help overweight children lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, they can also help you make sure your kids are eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods from each food group:
  • Grains, with a preference for whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Milk and dairy - especially low fat dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, and other foods that are good sources of calcium
  • Meat and beans, especially lean or low-fat meats and including poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts
How many servings from each food group is going to depend on your child's age, but in general, you should expect your kids to eat foods from each food group each day.

Vitamins and Minerals

Keeping track of what your kids are eating can help make sure that they are getting a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. You can record and be on the look out for foods that are good sources of fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, and any other nutrients that you are concerned that your kids don't get enough of.

Example Food Diary

The following example food diary shows what you can do with your own printable food diary. Can you spot the problems? For one thing, assuming this is a toddler, he is getting too many calories. Also, he is getting:
  • too many snacks. Kids typically don't need a bedtime snack and if they do, it should likely just be a healthy piece of fruit, like an apple, and not cookies and milk.
  • too many extra calories from high sugar and high fat foods, including the Root Beer and Oreo Cookies, which would be better as an occasional treat and not a regular snack
  • some oversized portions, including the serving size of Oreo Cookies which would typically be three cookies, not six
  • a very limited number of vegetables in his diet
  • plenty of calcium from the Orange Juice and milk
  • some very healthy choices, including 1% milk, whole grain cereal, and some fruit
In addition to reviewing the printable food diary yourself, it can also be a great resource if you would like to get extra help from your pediatrician in figuring out what may be wrong with your child's diet. Although you basically just record everything your child eats and drinks on the food diary, you can make it even easier by using some abbreviations, such as:
  • Meals
    • B = Breakfast
    • sAM = Morning Snack
    • L = Lunch
    • sPM = Afternoon Snack
    • D = Dinner
    • sBT = Bedtime Snack
  • Food Groups
    • G = Grains
    • V = Vegetables
    • F = Fruits
    • M = Meats/Beans
    • D = Milk/Dairy

Example Food Diary (not necessarily a healthy example!)
Food Meal Serving Size Calories Food Group Description
Orange Juice Breakfast 8oz 110 Fruit Minute Maid Kids+, Calcium 35%
Cereal Breakfast 1 cup 160 Grain, Dairy MultiGrain Cheerios plus 1/2 cup 1% Milk
Apple Juice Snack 10am Juice Box 100 Fruit 100% Fruit Juice
Banana Snack 10am 1 105 Fruit Good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C.
McDonalds Cheeseburger Happy Meal Lunch
500 Meat, Dairy, Fruit, Grain Apple Dippers, 1% Milk
Celery with Peanut Butter Snack 4pm 4 small stalks, 2 tbsp 200 Veggies, Meat/Beans Good sources of fiber, protein.
Root Beer Snack 4pm 8oz 120
Extra sugar
Macaroni and Cheese Dinner 1 220 Grain, Dairy
Oreo Cookies Snack 8pm 6 cookies 300
Extra fat and calories
Milk Snack 8pm 8oz 120 Dairy

Calorie Totals:


Food Group Totals Fruits
3 1/2

Notes: Too many snacks! Need more veggies and healthier snacks.
Related Video
USDA Food Pyramid Explained

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