Good news: You can help improve your diet and control your diabetes if you write down what you eat. You may even lose weight if you record all of your meals and snacks in a food journal. Have you ever kept a personal diary or even a journal?
Just as your diary helps you sort out your thoughts, a food journal can help you figure out what foods to add or take out of your meal plan.
FOOD JOURNAL BENEFITS
When you honestly write down what you eat, you will see clues that will help you improve your meal plan. A food journal will allow you to:
- See your eating patterns and help you and your healthcare provider determine any dietary changes you may need.
- Find out what foods affect your blood glucose levels and pinpoint why you didn’t lose weight, or why your blood glucose levels are high or low at certain times.
- Figure out why you’re hungry in the mid-afternoon or why you overeat during dinner.
A food journal can help you see how your food affects your blood glucose levels and your moods.
You can change what you eat and improve your health.
Keeping a food journal can help you take— and maintain— control of your diabetes.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR FOOD JOURNAL
- Weigh and measure your food for two weeks. Buy a food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons. Buy both dry and liquid measuring tools for precise measuring. When you measure and weigh your food, you’ll see exactly how much you’re eating—and whether it’s above the average serving size. You’ll also be able to figure out if you eat too much at some point during the day and not enough at another time.
- Write down what you eat each day. You will be able to see how your food plan, exercise program and diabetes medication (or insulin) work together.
- Write down when you eat both meals and snacks as soon as possible. Just in case you don’t remember what you ate for breakfast by dinner time.
- Don’t worry if you ate a little more than you planned. You will learn how to make better choices as time goes on.
- Use a notebook that is easy to carry with you. Or try a free online-based food journal, such as myfitnesspal.com, or a phone app such as Foods and Moods.
In Your Food Journal…
1 List the foods you eat and when you eat them. Be as honest as possible. You might not want to admit to all of your menu choices at first. But you will gain so much more from this if you do. When you review your foods, you will most likely start to make better meal and snack choices in a short time. Include how you feel and what you think about your diet. For example, you might stuff a cookie in your mouth to soothe stress at work. If you write down all of the food you eat—even cookies and candy—you’ll have a greater awareness of your eating habits. You’ll also be able to figure out if you eat because of an emotion, stress, boredom or need.
2 Rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10 before you eat. If you rate your hunger at a 1 or 2, then you might not really be hungry. If that’s the case, enjoy a glass of water instead. Also, write down how much water you drink each day.
3 Write about your food likes and dislikes. Meet with your healthcare provider and/or a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator to discuss your food choices and dislikes. For example, your healthcare provider might have suggested to you to eat more fish to increase your intake of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But what if you don’t like fish? You can discuss another source of omega-3s such as a few walnuts in your salad for a rich omega-3 treat.
4 Write about your emotions or how you feel about food. This will help you figure out if you eat after a stressful phone call or out of boredom.
Do you eat while you do other things? Many people eat more when they watch TV or talk on the phone.
You can watch your food intake more closely when you sit at the table and enjoy your meal.