Benefits of Tracking Dietary Intake
Do you struggle with managing your diet? Does the word diet make you feel a little anxious? Are there certain foods you need to limit or avoid related to health concerns? Have you considered tracking to help?
Sometimes the word diet makes people feel like they will forever be restricting favorite foods or comfort items. While this keeps some people from changing their eating habits, others resort to extreme diets, eliminating entire foods groups or all items that contain sugar or gluten. Often there are misunderstandings about what healthy foods to eat and what to eliminate. Instead of avoiding or cutting out all the food that isn’t healthy, or an entire food group, start keeping track of what you eat.
An Alternative Approach
Take control of what you eat. Be aware. Be accountable. Make healthy lifestyle changes. Start small. This is where food journaling comes in. Studies show that people are more accountable and aware of what they put into their bodies when they write everything down. And really, that means everything – everything you drink, every chip, every blueberry–everything.
Food journaling helps reduce mindless eating. When you have to write down everything you eat, you might reconsider a handful of nuts here or a couple (ends up being more like 50) chips there. Documenting what you eat means you need to know how much you eat, ultimately leading to better chances of meeting your diet goals.
For those with food allergies, food journaling can help get to the bottom of food intolerances or allergies. This is where eliminating foods or food groups can be beneficial. The process can take a long time, especially if you are not certain what is causing the symptoms. Once you find that a certain food or food group is not the reason for the trouble, those foods can be reintroduced.
Managing Kidney Disease
Food journaling can also be helpful in managing kidney disease. Your kidney diet meal plan comes with lists of food you should limit or avoid. Sometimes certain foods are allowed only once or twice a week to keep labs within a normal range. Keeping a food journal allows you to look back and see when you last had your favorite ‘limit’ food, and if today’s the day you can eat it again.
In essence, there are many benefits to keeping a record or journal of all the food you eat. It can lead to more mindful eating. Tracking may help you be more aware of bad habits, such as snacking while watching television. In addition, it can promote weight loss and increase awareness or portion sizes. And it can help manage health concerns or diseases like kidney disease.
Food Tracking Methods
There are a few different ways to keep a journal.
- Some people still prefer to write things down with a paper and a pen. The key to accuracy here is keeping the daily list with you so you do not forget. Pick up a small notebook or actual journal and don’t leave home without it.
- Online programs are available for food journaling. Website tools like DaVita Diet Helper™ allow users to create a profile and log food in for a daily breakdown of macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). You can enter foods as you eat them or you can enter them all at once at the end of the day.
- In this mobile era, many people are downloading applications or apps to their smartphones or tablets. These apps help to keep track of what they eat as well as to track exercise. Some commonly used apps* include Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, and Noom®.
* Applications are being named as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by DaVita or any of the products, services or opinions contained in third party applications. Before using an app, consult with your healthcare provider and the manufacturer as to the app’s usefulness and accuracy. DaVita is not responsible for the accuracy, legality or content of the app in question.
For more kidney diet and nutrition resources from DaVita click here.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.