Can A Food Diary Help Your Diabetes Control?

By Robert Ehrman, MD, Reviewed by Johanna Burani

Can A Food Diary Help Your Diabetes Control?


If you have diabetes, you know that there’s a lot you need to do to keep it under control. You need to check you blood glucose, take your medicines on time, eat a healthy diet, and do regular physical activity—just to name a few!

One of the most important parts of keeping your diabetes under control is a healthy meal plan. Keeping a diary of what you eat every day is a great way to help you stick to your meal plan and keep your diabetes care on track.

 Why is A Healthy Meal Plan so Important?

Your healthcare provider has probably told you many times that you need to pay close attention to what you eat because of your diabetes. But, have you ever thought about why it’s so important?

Eating healthy foods and following your diabetes meal plan will help you keep your blood glucose under control. This is important because it can delay or prevent you from developing diabetes complications like kidney disease, nerve problems, and eyesight loss. In addition, normal blood glucose levels lower your risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

A healthy meal can also help you control your weight. This is very important when you have diabetes. Being overweight or obese can greatly increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke.

Finally, getting to a healthy weight and staying there will also make it easier for you to keep you blood glucose in your goal range, and this is your critical goal for diabetes care!

How Can A Food Diary Help You Stick to A Healthy Diet?

For most people with diabetes their diabetes care is something they have to do on top of all the other issues they deal with in a busy life.

With so much going on, it can be hard to remember what you ate, how much you ate, or when you ate it. If you note what you eat in a food diary it makes it easy to look back and see if you’ve made healthy food choices and stuck to your meal plan.

A food diary can also help you work out how many calories you eat. This can be a great tool to help you lose weight or stay at your goal weight. It can also show you if there are certain times of the day or days of the week when you make unhealthy food choices. If you know these facts you can work on a new plan to change the unhealthy habits into healthy ones!

Show your food diary to your healthcare provider or dietitian at your next visit. Having an expert look at your food choices is the best way to find out if you are eating the right foods for you.

A dietitian can guide you on the number of calories to eat each day to reach and keep to a healthy weight. Your diary will show if you are eat too much of some foods or not enough of others. Maybe you eat too much bread or not enough fruits or vegetables? Your food diary makes it easier to change your eating plan and update your meal plan goals.

How to Keep A Food Diary

It’s simple! Download a copy of this sample food diary:

Print it out, and carry it, and a pen, with you at all times. Then, every time you eat something, write down what it is and how much of it you eat!

Do this for a few weeks, and then look back and check to how closely you are sticking to your meal plan. Be sure to bring the completed food diaries with you the next time you see someone from your healthcare team.

The Take Home Points

  • Diabetes care can seem like a full-time job, but you need to do it for your health, and you can do it!
  • A healthy meal plan can help you control your blood glucose and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Being at a healthy weight can make it easier to control your blood glucose, and it will lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke.
  • Keeping track of what you eat in a food diary is a simple way to let you look back and see if you’ve been making healthy food choices.
  • Share your food diary with your healthcare team and discuss the best eating plan to keep you happy and healthy for years to come!



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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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