The "Write" Way to Healthy Habits

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Keep a daily food and activity diary.


How many calories have you consumed today? Your best guess is likely 10 to 25 percent less than you think. To find out how many calories you do have, keep a daily food diary. And, while you are at it, record your physical activity, too. Burning calories might make up for those little mouthfuls that add up.

Set your target.

Health experts say that the average woman should have 1800-2,000 calories per day, and the average man, 2200-2,500. Your needs may vary and depend on whether you need to lose weight, gain weight, or have other diet-related issues. You should discuss your caloric and physical activity needs with your doctor.

Be honest.

Record everything you eat from the time you wake until the time you go to bed. This means what you eat and drink at meals and in between meals. Include coffee drinks, mindless munchies, 20-ounce sodas, and peppermints you pop in your mouth throughout the day.

Get ready for a reality check.

You can find out how many calories are in foods and drinks from:

•  Books like Calorie King Fat & Carbohydrate Counter or online at

•  SuperTracker at

•  Smartphone apps like My Fitness Pal, Calorie Counter, and The Daily Burn.

Enter physical activities you do, too. You may be in for an unpleasant surprise to find out how many calories you take in and how few you expend in energy.

If you had to pay for calories with physical activity:


1 oz. potato chips

Jelly doughnut

Large cinnamon roll

Calorie Cost




Activity Cost

30-minute walk

60-minute walk

160-minute walk

Action Step

Think before you munch. If you are eating just because food is in front of you, walk away. Better yet, take a walk around the block. Then record the activity in your diary.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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