How a Diabetes Food Diary Can Help You

Using a Printable Diabetic Food Diary to Track What You Eat

A food diary.
A food diary.. Image Source/Getty Images

Keeping a diabetes food diary helps you—and your healthcare team—learn how your body reacts to carbohydrates, exercise, stress and medication. You might be asked to keep a diabetic food diary by your doctor or dietitian. However, even if you're not asked to, keep a detailed food diary for at least a week to see what foods or conditions are having a significant impact on your blood sugar levels and then work with your doctor to see how you can better manage your diabetes.

How Diabetic Food Diaries Work

A food diary can help your doctor or dietitian see how you're managing your diabetes over time. They will be able to see when you eat meals and snacks as well as what nutrients you are consuming. They can also see when and how much you are exercising and your moods throughout the day. In addition, you will record your blood sugar readings and when you take your medications.

The food diary might reveal when your blood sugars are higher and when they tend to be lower. It can show how exercise and food might affect you throughout the day and how your mood might influence your levels.

What Information Should I Track?

  • Food. The diabetes food diary contains details about your meals and snacks, such as what you ate, how much, how it was made, calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Don't forget to include condiments and beverages. List everything you put in your mouth. You may also list where you ate. When starting to meal track, it is helpful to measure or weigh your food. This helps you get an accurate sense of how much you're actually eating.
  • Mood. Describe how you are feeling when you eat, exercise, and record your blood sugar levels. Your emotions can play a big role in what you eat, when you eat and how you manage your diabetes.
  • Exercise. Exercise is an important part of diabetes management. Track your progress, including how many steps you take per day and other activities— what exercise you did, for how long, and how intensely.
  • Medications. List what you took and the time. If you want to be more thorough, list any vitamins or supplements you have taken as well.
  • Blood sugar levels. Record your pre- and post-meal levels, as well as what you were doing at the time. Were you working? Watching TV? Talking on the phone?

Traditional and Modern Ways to Keep a Diabetes Food Diary

Using a pencil and paper is the most traditional way to keep a diabetes food diary. You can find printable forms online or create your own. You can use the information to chart your blood sugars throughout the day.

If you prefer to use your computer or smartphone, you have options. Many programs exist that all you to keep a food diary that's accessible from anywhere. Another perk of these programs is they often take your data and convert it into graphs and charts for you, so you can get an easy-to-view snapshot of your day or week.

The most important part of keeping a food journal is choosing a method you'll actually stick to. So find a method that works for you—and that you can share with your healthcare team.

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