Keeping a Food Diary

Can you remember what you ate for breakfast last Thursday or what was for dinner two Tuesdays ago? How many calories did you consume yesterday?

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Tracking what you eat and drink is one of the most important parts of diabetes management. Studies have shown that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. Keeping a daily food record is not simply about losing pounds — it can also help control blood glucose. By following how the foods you eat affect your blood glucose levels, you can adjust your meals to avoid glucose spikes.

You can use easy methods to start tracking your daily diet. For some, an old-fashioned notebook works just fine, but others may like using free apps on their smartphones. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started keeping a food diary.

Abundant apps

Several apps are available to store your meal information and track your daily calories, weight and even your fitness routine. MyFitnessPal and Yazio are some of the more popular apps. MyFitnessPal features an expansive nutrition database with more than five million foods. It will recommend a daily calorie intake and even save your favorite meals. Yazio features a built-in bar code scanner to make it easy to search for food and log it into your diary.

Take a picture

Tracking your food could be as easy as taking a picture with an app called Snap It. Using the latest in image recognition technology, Snap It prompts you after taking a picture of your food to specify what it is, confirm the type or brand and the approximate serving size. Without measuring and weighing the food, the app can’t provide a precise calorie count, but it can provide a range that can be helpful for meal planning.

Dining out

Restaurants, particularly chains, often provide estimated calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other nutrition factors for each of their dishes. Sites like Calorie King provide the calorie count for most menu items at hundreds of chain restaurants like Burger King, Denny’s and Pizza Hut.

Lessons learned

The upside to keeping a food journal is that it provides a record of what you’re eating — or not eating. Maybe you’re not eating enough vegetables or your meals are high in carbohydrates and sodium. Check the patterns and make adjustments to your meals. Remember to share your food diaries with your doctors, nutritionists and diabetes educators so they can make nutritional recommendations.

Want to learn more about eating well with diabetes? Read “Improving Your Recipes: One Step at a Time,” “Top Tips for Healthier Eating” and “Cooking With Herbs and Spices.”

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