When you have Type 2 diabetes, it is crucial to keep track of your daily intake of calories, carbohydrates and, of course, sugars.
If you’ve never kept a food diary before, it can be tough to know where to start. To help you get going, here’s our guide to creating a diabetic food diary.
What Should I Record in My Diabetic Food Diary?
When you're starting a diabetes journal, you need to record two main categories of information: food and glucose levels. To get started, choose your medium for recording the information: notebook, computer—you may even want to download an app that’s designed to help keep track of diabetic information.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that’s easy for you to update all day long. You don’t want to wait until the end of the day to input your entries, as it will become more of a burden and certain facts and figures may be forgotten. Also, since you need to quickly compare your food and glucose entries, keeping track of both in one central journal is probably your best (and most convenient) bet.
Keeping Track of Your Food
While you will have to keep track of your glucose levels all day, it’s best to discuss with your doctor when he or she wants you to test your blood; the best testing method for you to use; and what your target level should be. For the purpose of this blog post, we’re only going to focus on the right way to keep track of your daily food intake.
Here are some basic rules for keeping a proper diabetic food journal:
- Every time you eat, stop and record your meal or snack immediately
- Record exactly what you ate: write down what kind of food you had, as well as an approximate serving size. If you have a hard time estimating your intake, you may find it helpful to measure out your food before you eat. Just remember—any add-ons to your meal (i.e. ketchup, butter, etc.) should also be noted in the entry.
- Feelings have a place in your journal, too. Were you happy after your meal? Anxious? Guilty? Recording your emotional reactions before and after meals can help you determine whether you’re an emotional eater. Plus, emotions like stress can directly affect your blood sugar levels, so it’s a good idea to keep track of your feelings throughout the day, especially around meal times.
- Measure your hunger. When recording what you ate, keep track of how hungry you were before you ate it. It may be helpful to use a scale to rate your hunger, from 1-10. This will help you note whether the amount of food you took in was appropriate for your perceived hunger levels.
- Give a ballpark figure for your carbohydrate intake. Based on your serving sizes, write down your best guess of carb servings. Until you are really good at estimating; you may want to get a reference book detailing average carb counts for standard food servings. While everyone is different, a general guide for diabetic carb intake is approximately 45-60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal.
- Track your meds. Especially if you are on insulin, it’s especially important to keep track of your doses of medication in your food diary.
Why is it important to journal?
Now that you know what’s involved, are you sitting there wondering why you need to make such a tremendous effort? Here’s why food journals are so important: they hold you accountable for what you eat. Journals can also help you take note of (and correct) troublesome eating patterns, like those daily breakfast donuts. Finally, if you know that you’ll have to write down whatever you eat next, you are far more likely to make a healthy choice.
Starting Your Journal Off Right: The Breakfast of Champions!
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how many of us put in the effort to start our mornings healthfully and deliciously?
Makes: 10 pancakes Serving Size: 1 pancake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
- 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
- Sugar-free maple syrup (optional)
- Fresh fruit slices (optional)
Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle, spreading to a 5-inch circle. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn pancakes, and cook other side.
Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit, if desired (syrup and fruit not included in analysis).
Tip: One tablespoon of sugar-free maple syrup has 8 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrate.