Making daily entries in a health journal raises your awareness of the choices you make that impact your diabetes. They can help you deter from bad habits like mindless eating in front of the TV and grazing.
On the flip side, health diaries can also promote better health habits, especially if you have specific diabetes goals you are trying to reach. Writing down a daily pedometer reading or workout routine in an exercise diary gives you both a sense of achievement and a written record of moving one step closer to your goal.
Perhaps most importantly, health diaries offer you important information to use to do some diabetes detective work: you can see what foods may have caused your blood sugar to spike, and how exercise may help bring it back down again.
Studies have shown that keeping a daily food diary as part of a diet plan can double a person’s weight loss (compared to people who don’t log food intake). That makes logging your meals really pay off.
And exercise—that health habit that seems to be the toughest to conquer for many of us—can also become a regular routine with the help of a diary.
How to Use a Health Journal for Diabetes
Keeping a journal will help you eat better, keep your blood sugar in check, track your exercise and stop you from eating when you are not supposed to.
Carry it with you to work to record what you eat and trust us, it will help you keep away from that tempting snack cart. Here are some tips for keeping a journal:
Pick a fun journal that you will look forward to writing in.
Be honest about the foods you eat.
List all the details of your meals, including the serving size, what dressing and condiments were on your meal, etc.
Keep track of what time of day you eat your meals and snacks — this will help you see patterns in your eating habits.
If you are not sure how much you are eating, get a food scale. Sometimes you think you are eating less than you actually are!
Check with your doctor about how many times you should check your blood glucose. Typically you should check your fasting blood glucose before having breakfast.
Note the medications you take to help you get an idea of what helps to help your blood sugar levels stay within range.
Note your exercise habits — this will show you much you are actually doing in a day.
If there’s something off about your eating plan, consult your diabetes educator or dietician about coming up with an eating plan that’s right for you. Analyze how your blood sugar readings are based on the food you eat. This is one of the biggest benefits of keeping a health journal, so you can be proactive about your health.
The Modern Way: Apps and Trackers
For those that are more comfortable using their smartphones and apps, there are lots of great apps and trackers that can be used instead of a traditional journal. The trackers allow you to keep tab of lots of details including insulin, carbohydrates, weight, and ketones.
Apps also allow users to save and view a history of their blood sugar records which helps you identify trends in your health. Some apps allow you to share your records with your family members and your doctor.
You can also schedule reminders to measure your blood sugar. The apps can also track what time of day you are checking your blood sugar. You can also add a note to each record. Subscriptions are available for premium features such as graphs, and custom tagging tools. Read all about the best free diabetes apps and trackers here.