Staying compliant with your diabetes is not only a good idea, it can save your life. One of the best ways to manage your diabetes is to keep a food journal. Whether you use paper, a computer, tablet, or your smartphone, writing down what you eat will help you figure out how often you should be eating, what foods you can handle best, and how much insulin you need when you do eat.
Record What You Eat
The most important thing to do is to write down everything you eat. This might seem like a huge burden at first, but it’s absolutely necessary, and you’ll soon discover the types of foods you eat on a regular basis. After a few days of recording your food intake, make a note of any patterns or issues that come up.
For example, do you always reach for a candy bar in the afternoon because you’ve skipped breakfast? If so, maybe it’s time to think about eating breakfast. Also, take note of the conditions surrounding your food choices. Do you make poor choices when you’re stressed out? When you’re starving and haven’t eaten for a while? What are you doing while you’re eating. Who are you eating with?
All of these things can affect what you put into your mouth, and could play a huge role in how you feel afterwords.
Put Style Into Your Writing
This is your food journal, so write in a comfortable tone. Sure, it’s unlikely that anyone but you will ever see this, but writing in a style that’s comfortable to you will make it easier to stick with it.
Keep It Light and Creative
You don’t have to sit down and write essays. Include pictures of what you eat. Include drawings, quotes that inspire you, or anything else that will help you figure out how you were feeling at the time.
Keep Tabs on Emotions
It’s important to keep tabs on your emotional state after eating. Do you feel energized or run down? Also, keep track of how you feel between meals. At the end of every day, it’s important to write down your high and low emotional points. This will allow you to reflect on how your diet is affecting you.
You can even connect your emotional states to degrees of hunger you feel. Rate your emotional state on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not very hungry” and 5 being “extremely hungry.”
Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be hard. If you have a tablet, computer, or smartphone, apps make the process a snap and you don’t have to worry about losing your pen when it’s time to sit down and write. MyNetDiary Diabetes Tracker is one app for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry that can really simplify the process for you.
It allows you to monitor your blood glucose level, insulin, meals, and any exercise you do. It’s pretty user-friendly with an intuitive interface. The food tracker is also easy to use and lets you snap photos of the foods you eat. Snap a picture of the nutritional info on the back of your lunch, and upload it to the app. Done. The food tracker also tracks your carb intake, not just total food intake (though it does that too).
OnTrack is another app that helps you manage your diabetes by tracking various items like food, medication, blood pressure, and blood glucose. You can easily create detailed graphs, keep a detailed log book, and even export your data to CSV, HTML, or XML.
Spreadsheet programs are another way to keep track of your food intake. While spreadsheet programs like MS Excel don’t have a lot of fancy features, they do provide a simple interface for you to keep detailed entries of food intake, blood glucose levels, and other important data. You can even insert pictures into your spreadsheet. It may not be as pretty as other apps, but it will help you keep your journal organized and that’s what counts.
Alicia Bell has had diabetes since late childhood. She is also an avid blogger and you can find her articles on various health and medical websites. To learn more about how to use a glucose meter, go here.