Are You Keeping A Food Diary?

Currently, I’m not but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept one in the past.  After my diagnosis I found the Three Step Gastroparesis Diet (the link is located under blog roll on this page) during my internet travels.  My Gastroenterologist was great at diagnosis, lousy with advice about eating.  And we all know the saying “God helps those who help themselves.”  I started a food diary because I knew I wasn’t getting enough calories and my “nutrition” was pretty poor…the obvious signs: I continued losing weight and my hair was thinning.  My diary was “old school”, just a small notebook where I would jot down the time I ate, what I ate, the amount and the approximate calories…always in Sharpie marker in case of spills!  At the end of the day I’d take out my trusty calculator and add up my total for the day…four small “meals” and two “snacks”.  Along with that basic information, I would make a notation (usually as a giant asterisk or big unhappy face) next to an item or meal when it really didn’t agree with me or I’d write “MISTAKE” in giant block letters next to an item or amount that might have seemed like a sound choice but wasn’t.  I weighed myself every Thursday morning (and continue to), noted the number and difference from the prior week in my food diary.

I brought the diary to my appointment with the Registered Dietitian as evidence, that despite the condition I was in, I was eating and trying to get my calories and nutrition in.  She was able to examine it and tell me where I could improve and how I could increase my caloric intake…namely making my snacks more “calorically dense”.

I learned a few important things from keeping a food diary.  I was gradually and steadily increasing my caloric intake and I was narrowing down an eating plan without even knowing it.  When I looked back over the months of daily journaling definite patterns emerged.  I stopped keeping my diary when I got to a regular 2,000 calories per day, gained 3 pounds and was able to start exercising again while maintaining my weight.  I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the structure of daily journaling.

Today, I use the recipe analyzer at http://www.caloriecount.about.com to keep a close eye on the calories, fat, fiber and protein in the recipes I eat and post on the blog.  It’s very easy to use and gives me the information I need to keep myself well…and well fed.  And now, the whole point to this post: CalorieCount now offers a new Food Log on its site.  The log allows you to catalogue what you’ve eaten while it tracks your calories and lets you know if you are meeting your caloric and nutritional needs.  The log also give a “nutritional grade” but before you get disappointed most GP-friendly choices don’t grade well given their lack of fiber so don’t despair if you get a bad “nutritional grade” from CalorieCount.  I personally believe that if I’m are eating well (given the constraints of the low-fat/low fiber Gastroparesis Diet), feeling well, maintaining my weight and getting my calories, allowed fruits/veggies and protein, I’m doing well.

As the saying goes: “Knowledge is power” and having a tool that gives you that knowledge puts the power of wellness in your hands.  I hope you’ll check the food log out.  Eat well!  Be well!  Enjoy!

Advertisements

4 responses to “Are You Keeping A Food Diary?

  1. Hum, I’ll have to go have a look at that site. I journal in a sense, but have nothing written to show a doctor. Mostly it’s in a combo of online journals. I do keep one when I have flare-ups, but I really should be better about keeping one all the time so when a flare-up happens I’ll know what lead up to it.

  2. I found it very helpful…especially when trying to find what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s also a great way to reinforce that I’m doing good for myself. Take care. M

  3. Before gastroparesis, I needed and consumed about 2500 calories a day to maintain my health and active lifestyle. Now, I’m taking in about 1000 on a good day and a few hundred on a really crummy day. I’m awaiting pacemaker surgery next month and am hopeful that it will help me to consistently up my intake and stop losing weight (I need to regain about 30 lbs to get to a healthy range), but my doctor says he’d be pleased if I can eat about 1500. I don’t want to sound greedy or unreasonable or disagree with a doctor, but yikes! That won’t get me very far and I can’t imagine ever getting back to my love of hiking and kayaking eating so little.

    Is it good to hope and then push to get in more or am I being unrealistic? Is there some sort of general nutrition guideline for people with gastroparesis? I ask because although we have trouble digesting, surely our bodies still have the same minimum nutritional needs, right?

  4. Hi T, I’m not a dietitian and can only speak from my own experience. I divide my day into 6 small meals making sure each contains protein, carbs and a small amount of healthy fat (sometimes that “meal” was a nutrition drink) and I try to cram as much nutrition as I can into each little meal (using greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey protein isolate, eggs, almond and peanut butter, etc) and not fill up on empty foods. I also take a liquid multivitamin to fill in the gap. For me its been a journey of “pushing my GP limits”…but doing it gently. I too was active before GP (speed walking, kayaking, gardening) and even with the eating plan I’ve set up I still tire more easily than before and can’t do everything that I used to. These days I prioritize what it is I want/ need to accomplish. The food diary is good to keep track of your nutrition (I still routinely run my day through the free Calorie Count program to make sure I’m doing ok). I’m learning to eat/live w/in my GP limitations and adjust my expectations. It is possible to live well with GP but I’m finding its also about adjusting to a new definition of living well. Two other blogs that have great info are My Broken Stomach and Living with Gastroparesis (written by a Certified Health Counselor who has GP and the pacer) the links are at the bottom right of the page. Good luck with the pacer! Be Well! Mary