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8 Best Food Diary Apps of 2021

How many times did you contemplate starting a food diary but never did? Maybe you have even made a few entries but you haven't found the right routine for filling in the journal: a notebook can be forgotten at home, the first app you've downloaded might be glitchy, and another app does not exactly correlate with your aims. Does it sound about right?
I genuinely believe that not being able to find the right place, time, and platform for keeping a food diary has hindered so many people from adopting this beneficial practice and improving their mental and physical conditions. Let's amend the situation and discuss what are the best food diary apps so that you can finally choose the one that suits you best.
Best Food Diary Apps

How do you do food journaling like a pro?

A food diary is essentially not about changing how much you eat, what you eat, and when you eat. It does not force you to do something "better", to break your habits, to quit on your favorite snack or to "eat more greens". Food journaling simply invites you to look at a bigger picture and account for your relationship with food, to notice what you eat and drink daily, to understand why you make these food choices and how you feel about them. Among all the benefits, users most commonly report the rise of one's accountability, weight loss, easier management of food disorders, and improved emotional state.
a person filling in a food diary
The main idea of a food diary is to track what you eat, in which circumstances (time, place, who is around you) and — most importantly — your emotional state during or after you eat.
This general threefold-rule of noting your food, the circumstances, and your emotions can be broken down to these points:
  • time
  • situation (lunch at work, coffee with friends, etc.)
  • what was eaten (noting your portion is optional)
  • feelings of fullness or hunger
  • water, caffeine, alcohol, and sodas intake
  • physical reactions to food
  • your emotional state that triggered your specific food behavior or followed the food intake
  • food cravings, even if you decided not to satisfy them.
This list is neither exhaustive nor obligatory: you can modify, add more parameters, or just select the most relevant points to keep track of. Just remember that this tool is for observing, understanding, and correcting, and not about self-judging.

Below, the best apps are listed that can be your handy tool for food journaling without much effort.
Ate Food Journal food diary app
This is a photo food diary: instead of spending time writing down what is in your bowl, just snap a picture, add location, emotion, and other tags and – voila!

This app offers a customized questionnaire which you should modify depending on your needs. It has even an integrated intermittent fasting mode if you're into this movement. Among other cool features, the app provides you with statistics and also syncs with your other activities from the Health app. It neither counts your calories nor makes judgments of what you eat. Ate Food Journal also allows you to share your food diary with other users to build peer-groups and encourage social accountability—it is proven to be immensely helpful to do food journaling in a social environment, supported by like-minded people.

There are though some downsides. The practice of posting photos of your food waiting for someone's reaction to it stands on the verge of turning into a food Instagram. When taking a picture of your meal and sharing it among your friends, you subconsciously expect your food to look extraordinary because of glamorous food blogging standards. This might make you feel anxious, which is unnecessary when you're combating emotional or mindless eating. Most of its features are free (and the developers swear it will stay the same) though you will have to put down some cash if you want to track water intake or physical activities.
Ate Food Journal is available on iOS and Android for free with an additional premium subscription.
RR: Eating Disorder Management food journaling app
It is not just an app, it is "your recovery journey companion" that aids you to overcome eating disorders or the discontent with your body or eating patterns. The program offered is developed based on clinical research, which is a huge advantage. How does it work? It is a food diary, in which you keep track of meals and your emotions; it is fully customizable so that you can fix up the questionnaire and reminders to be in line with your goals and the initial condition.

Eating Disorder Management also provides you with statistics and motivation rewards; if you want you can connect to other users to get motivation from them. There is a huge bonus for those who are working on eating disorders with a treatment team — you can get connected through this app and receive their constant support and feedback. It has amazing user reviews: 4.9 out of 5 on AppStore! It is proven to be helpful for actual treatment as well as for correcting emotional overeating and weight-related concerns.

It is an excellent app, but… there is always a "but". If you are not diagnosed with a certain eating disorder but just want to brush up your eating habits, you should switch off questions and tips related to specific ailments.
RR: Eating Disorder Management is available on iOS and Android for free.
With See How You Eat, you track your food with photos and log all the accompanying information, though only premium users can log emotions. The app has an emphasis on regular eating as a tool for solving your weight-related concerns or emotional problems: it will send you reminders that it's time to drink water or to have lunch. There is also an integrated weight loss goal tracking, score systems and statistics reports that should keep you motivated. The thing I love the most about See How You Eat — it does not calculate calories.

All in all, it is an app that can guarantee you a user-friendly experience and will assist you with weight-loss or recovery. However, tracking emotions is the key feature of any food diary, so if you decide for this app — invest in the upgraded version. Moreover, the scoring system can put you under additional pressure to perform "better than I can" and we don't want that. Therefore, this app is fine but not perfect since some of its useful features are behind the paywall (and it's not cheap to get over this wall).
See How You Eat Food Diary App is free to get on iOS and Android, though some advanced features are available only with a paid subscription.
This app, designed by Recovery Warriors committed to "boosting emotional intelligence", is an eating disorder management tool based on thorough research and professional recommendations. You can log not only your food and drinks but also a bunch of additional information — a food diary is exactly about that. You easily tag time and place, your emotions, and attitude towards eating (like if it was mindful eating or not). All users also have a possibility of journaling some of their feelings or whatever comes to mind; the app comes for free and doesn't have any in-app purchases. "Simple and effective, I love it" — just as one of the users has commented.

You will be supported with motivational texts and given access to multiple resources on mindful eating and disorder treatment. Rise Up allows you to export your progress and to share it with your treating specialist. Alternatively, one can seek support from eating disorder specialists included in the app's database.

It's a genius app but it might overburden you with information and advice if you do not have an eating disorder but would like to be more mindful and at ease with the food you eat. The app does not analyze exactly what you eat and how nutritious it is (which can be advantageous for some people and a huge downside for others).
Rise Up + Recover is available on iOS and Android for free.
Here it is all about social accountability and community: in a supportive and understanding digital environment of like-minded people, you can honestly talk about food disorders. This app has a free 7-day trial period (which is called a "food journal challenge"), so join and discover for yourself whether this is something that suits you. As for tracking options, you post pictures of your food and register water intake and exercises, though no accountability for emotions is possible. Users also eagerly share their own recipes so you can always update your menu with some new meals or inspire people with your own cooking.

It seems that the community-thingy is indeed working (some of the reviewers reported that they're still in touch with the people they have met in this app!) but a seven-day period is not nearly enough to get any tangible results. A yearly subscription is rather affordable — 30$ which amounts to less than 10 cents a day. If social accountability is your thing and you know that you perform much better in a peer group, don't hesitate to choose this app. Otherwise, go with the apps that are available for free and have emotion-logging options.
YouFood Photo Food Journal is available on iOS and Android with a free trial period of seven days.
With this app everything goes simple: you just snap a picture of your food, write a brief description, and approximately calculate your serving. If you are interested in tracking additional parameters, you can also log your daily physical activities, sleep and weight. There is an integrated function of building a peer-group by sharing your diary with other users, who can then comment on your diet and cheer for you. Your food diary can also be shared with your dietician (which makes it an excellent choice for those under medical treatment) or with your fitness trainer — in any case, this is a great way for getting timely professional advice. However, you would need to pay for a premium account to use this function.

As for the downsides, with MealLogger you can't account for your emotions or observe patterns from all the data you log over time. Many app users report constant wreckages and problems, so the app is not exceptionally reliable.
MealLogger is available on iOS and Android for free with an optional Premium version.
This is probably one of the most widely used apps from the list. Actually, it is a calorie-based food diary which is not entirely true to the whole food journaling idea, though this app has immense benefits. You log meals by choosing them from more than 6 million foods registered in the database, including restaurant menus, or by scanning a barcode. It gives you a great advantage of logging exactly what you have eaten, which later is broken down into calories, ingredients, and nutrients.

The app also tracks your water intake and exercises and can be synced with all your favorite apps like Health or Fitbit. You can set a goal calorie intake and the app will guide you through the process, supporting you with insights and progress reports. MyFitnessPal gives you a benefit of team spirit: you can share your story with the friends and the whole community, receive their tips and support, or get encouraged by their stories. And users seem to like it, it has 4.7/5 on the Appstore!

However, the disadvantages are obvious: calculating calories can be useful but it is not the same as eating healthy or building healthy relationships with food. For many of us, counting calories will just inflict more stress and self-discontent. Moreover, MyFitnessPal does not allow you to log emotions. Therefore, it is the right choice for those who would like to get a detailed nutritional analysis of their food and harmonize calorie-intake, though if you have eating disorders or the word "calorie" gets on your nerves — turn to something else.MyFitnessPal is available on iOS and Android for free with an optional Premium version.
Users love this app: some of them report awesome weight loss results, like losing 60 or 70 pounds! That's the true miracle of raising one's awareness and accountability about food through journaling.

MyPlate is actually a calorie counter: it tracks your combined food and water intake together with physical activities. You scan your foods with a barcode or browse through their catalog of more than 2 million food and drinks (though MyFitnessPal offers a longer menu). With a simple questionnaire, you set your goal, be it weight control or weight gain; this defines your daily calorie intake and off we go! But what makes MyPlate different from other calorie counters? It actually builds a good support system around a user: they have a 24/7 support team who will solve your problems or will carefully advise on your issues. The app also provides a ton of good recipes and workout plans. Altogether it amounts to a stimulating and non-judging environment in which you can explore your eating habits and preferences. This app also synchronizes with other apps, which is a convenient bonus if you track physical activities.

However, MyPlate does not have an option of emotional food journaling as well as it does not provide you with overviews and reports as some other apps do (unless you pay). Most of the app's functions are available for free though only users with a Golden Membership can receive advanced statistics and get access to additional workouts and priority support.
MyPlate is available on iOS and Android for free with an advanced subscription option.

Personally, I am committing to the Rise Up + Recover. They won me by a carefully thought program based on the latest research in nutrition and behavioral psychology. It has a simple non-distracting interface with all the benefits of food journaling like emotional logging and some other useful tips and practices on working on your body image or relationships. For those who are recovering from severe eating disorders—RR: Eating Disorder Management is what you should aim for; it has already become a lifesaver for so many people. In case writing food down is tedious and you are a fan of how your food looks like, download Ate Food Journal right now. If you need to know what you eat and you're especially keen on nutritional aspects — go with MyFitnessPal, it will be clear for you while sooo many users swear by it!

Whatever option you choose, whatever parameters you decide to track, remember — a food diary is about paying attention to your emotions and enjoying your food. With a food diary, you can explore your emotional and physical attachments to food or its nutritional value and eventually become more accountable and honest with yourself. These steps are essential for healthy and happy well-being and I'm sure you are now equipped with the perfect app to support you. Good luck on your journey!
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