Important: Keeping a Diabetes Food Log
You’ve just been asked to keep a food log. Maybe you’ve done it before or have never even heard of one. Either way, we’re here to help and give you tips on how to make keeping a food log a piece of cake! Whether you prefer writing down what you eat on paper or using a high-tech app, it is important to keep a diabetes food log. As long as you record your food and details around your eating, that’s all that matters and all your dietitian needs! Keep on reading for our tips, app recommendations, reasons it’s important, and a FREE diabetes gift to help you manage your blood sugar.
Tips for Keeping a Food Log to Manage Diabetes
#1 Make realistic goals
Focus on small goals and record them. For example, if you have difficulties getting in 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, let that be your goal (i.e. only keep track of your fruit and vegetable consumption). Or, if one of your goals is to not skip breakfast, only record your breakfast each day. Having smaller, specific goals can seem less daunting and can be more helpful to reach your overall nutrition goal. Your registered dietitian (RD) can talk to you about creative ways to fit in fruits and veggies, give you breakfast ideas, and help you come up with your goals. In terms of apps, we like Check off Diet (don’t worry it is not a diet like the name implies) or Food Tracker Pro, which helps you keep track of food groups.
#2 Record hunger and fullness
It’s very helpful when our clients record hunger before a meal and fullness after. This not only helps the RD and client recognize patterns, but it also helps the client to eat more intuitively. Recording your hunger and fullness can bring to light if you’re eating when you aren’t actually hungry or you feel uncomfortably full after eating. This is very valuable when assessing emotional eating. Recovery Record is one of our favorite apps because it allows you to keep track of your food and feelings. It’s also filled with inspirational quotes to keep you motivated!
#3 Notice Your Feelings
Record what you’re feeling. Did you feel happy, sad, guilty, stressed, excited, or angry before/after a certain meal or snack? Again, your RD will be able to recognize patterns and maybe help figure out why you felt a certain way before or after eating. It can seem tedious at times but this action can reap huge benefits, not only for your RD but for you.
#4 Ask Yourself: Is this working?
Food diaries are not the best tool for everyone. When keeping a diary, you shouldn’t feel stressed or embarrassed. For example, if you skip a day, that’s okay! If you forget to write something down, don’t fret. If you eat a cupcake and feel guilty writing it down… don’t feel guilty! Your RD is here to help you along the way and they won’t judge you for what’s in your food diary or if you forget something.
A food diary is supposed to be a tool that brings you closer to your goals. If you find it helpful, then great! Keep on recording your thoughts for your RD. If you find your food diary to be hindering and less than helpful, that’s okay! Let your RD know and they can give you plenty of other tools to reach your health and nutrition goals.
Food Log App – Dietitian Recommendation
Nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal are really popular these days because it allows people to record their food intake right on their phones. No paper or pen needed! A downside of MyFitnessPal is that it can be very calorie-focused and can hinder you from eating intuitively. Because of that, we have our own nutrition app recommendation! One of our favorite diabetes food log apps is Nourishly.
What exactly is Nourishly?
Nourishly is an app that can help you log your food and feelings. Why is this important? It can help you determine if you are eating out of habit, mindlessness, boredom, or any other reason. As mentioned earlier, it is not calorie-focused like MyFitnessPal. This helps you focus on eating based on your hunger and fullness, not what an app tells you. It may also help you see if you’re overeating later in the day because you did not eat enough earlier in the day.
For example, if you got busy at work and forgot to eat lunch until 2 pm, you are probably super hungry by the time you leave the office. This intense hunger makes it much more likely for you to end up eating too much later (making you uncomfortably full) and/or not eaing the most diabetes-friendly foods. The more tired, hungry, or stressed you are, the harder it is to make wise food choices and put breaks on eating. Using the Nourishly app will help you become more aware of your patterns and your potential triggers to overeat. Collecting this information will help you and your RD work together to come up with realistic solutions to help you manage your blood sugar more easily than trying to do it all on your own.
To read more about the Nourishly food log app, click here.
Why Your Dietitian Asked You to Keep a Food Log
For dietitians, a food log is extremely helpful because they get a peek into what is going on in terms of food preferences, meal compositions, and portions. They can recognize patterns and give better advice by knowing what our clients usually eat from day to day. It is important to have a few days including some weekdays and weekend days to see these patterns and know that no single day is or expected to be perfect.
But sometimes, a food diary may limit progress. It can be liberating for some people to take a break from keeping a food diary, especially if the food diary is adding stress and guilt to eating. Nutrition and health don’t have to be picture-perfect, and sometimes a food diary can promote that false assumption.
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Interested in making an initial consultation with a dietitian? We would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Give our office a call at 301 474 2499 or to reach us online, simply fill out this contact form .
Blog reviewed and updated March 2021.
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.