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Food journaling made easy

Diabetics keep all sorts of journals. We track our Blood Sugar Level (BSL). We track our exercise. Keeping a food journal is one more aspect of managing our diabetes.

Lancaster General Hospital has a Diabetes and Nutrition Center. The Center offers a nutrition class. At the first meeting, one would need to bring a list of medications, insurance cards and a referral, a self assessment from the Center and specifically requested items. One of those items is a three day food record.

That’s all it says. Bring a three day food record. The paperwork does not include instructions on how to do a food journal or what to include. Personally, I chose to use the My Fitness Pal app. It tracks my food, water and exercise and is easy to update throughout the day. Since it is on my phone, it is always with me.

Food journaling has never been an easy thing for me personally. One should include everything one eats, but I tend to graze.


  • Your personality will play a great deal into the type of journal that will work best for you. This could be a book, a notepad, index cards, a file on your computer or an app on your phone.
  • Include not just what you eat, but also how much. Remember to include all those little extras. For example, I prefer my cheeseburger with just cheese. If you prefer ketchup and mustard and a pickle, then include those extra calories.
  • Include the time of day and where you are. Were your sitting at the dining room table or were you in front of the tv?
  • Include your activity – watching tv, reading, writing, etc.
  • Record how you are feeling – depressed, famished, happy, bored, etc.
  • Be honest. No one is perfect and aside from your doctor or dietician, no one else need ever see your journal.
  • Review your eating habits. Take note of how your emotions affect your eating habits.

It’s all in the details!

Why are you keeping a food journal? Are you simply counting calories? Or are you trying to keep a track of everything with the intention of reviewing the data to determine what changes you need to make?

Some people find it helpful to keep track of calories, fat grams, carbs or other information. Diabetes may find that meals high in carbohydrates or saturated fats may wreak havoc with sugar levels.

You may find it helpful to also track your medication in your food journal. One central place may simply be easy. Personally as a Type 2 diabetic, I take the same meds at relatively the same time each day and in the same dosage. Hence, I do not include my meds in my tracking. Insulin dependent diabetics however may find it useful to keep track of insulin use in relation to food and exercise levels.

Keeping it simple

If it is not simple, will you really use it? Most of us would not, at least not regularly. The My Fitness Pal app The app contains over three million foods in its database. You can also scan the barcode of something you made. For example, a bag of Betty Crocker’s “just add water” pancakes has a barcode on the bag, like all items. I scanned the barcode using my phone and it came up with the nutritional label and all I had to do then was confirm the number if servings. Recording exercise using the My Fitness Pal app also automatically deducts the calories burned.


This article is not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes, make an appointment with your physician.

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Lancaster City is located in South Central Pennsylvania. Home to over 60,000 people, it is the County Seat. Do you have an upcoming event or information that would interest the Lancaster community? If so, please email Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman at

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