In 11 Benefits of a Food Diary we looked at general features and different approaches. Now I explain how food diaries are used to help manage various diseases.
Note that this is an overview of several studies. Because I want to show the variety of uses in many situations. But if you choose to keep a food diary for your own health conditions you will need to do more research. In conjunction with your doctor or other health professionals.
Benefits from Food Diary Records
Cancer Food Journals
- Each breast cancer survivor got:
Practical exercise on calorie definition and estimating portion sizes including education on completing food diaries.[…] The diaries were assessed and analyzed for total servings across a range of food groups (grains and grain products, milk and dairy products, chicken, red meats and its products, eggs, fish and seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts or seeds, legumes and beans, sweets, baking and chocolate, sugar, honey, olive oil, other fats and oils, coffee, alcohol, sweet drinks, and tea). 
- Stomach Cancer
Each patient was asked to keep a food diary on 3 non-consecutive days (2 weekdays and 1 weekend day). Food intake was initially assessed by recording all foods and beverages ingested by the patient. Each participant was also asked to precisely enumerate the intake of foods and non-alcoholic beverages during the same 3 days, including the usual serving size of each listed food. The precise methods of food preparation, including all ingredients, were also recorded. The participants could not specify the details of food type and serving sizes for some generic foods; in these cases, the dietitian requested the exact food type. 
Diary analysis revealed some stomach cancer survivors had poor shopping and cooking knowledge. Allowing nurses to encourage family members to support patients.
Diabetes Food Journals
- People at risk of diabetes but not diagnosed were asked to:
practice recording food type and portion amounts in a weekly food diary developed by the researcher. Examples of appropriate meal plans for type 2 diabetes prevention were also provided.
One group of people had additional guidance based on self assessing the question: ‘have you controlled the type and portions of food intake by eating lean meat, vegetables, high-fiber fruits low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diets?’ Data from the food diary allowed researchers to compare behavior changes between groups.
- Insulin Regulation
- Diabetic patients
recorded exchange unit by food group (grain, fish, vegetable, fat, milk, and fruit groups) in each breakfast, lunch, and dinner on 3-day food diary at weeks 12 and 24.
Here the food diary was one part of an app measuring blood glucose levels and stride activity as well as food intake.
- Carb Counting
- A specialized tool for type 1 diabetics to derive insulin dose based on carb consumption and individual insulin sensitivity.
IBS Food Journals
Low FODMAP Diet
Food diary was completed for 3 days (one weekend day and two usual days) during the screening period and during the last week of intervention.
The food diary was supported with additional FODMAP nutritional information. Including strategies for eating out, cooking foods without onion and garlic, and fermentable food choices advice across 7 food groups.
Inflammation Food Journals
Inflammation & Sinonasal Symptoms
- “Participants kept a 2-week food diary to document sugar intake.” Note this wasn’t a full diary – just sugar intake. Reflecting how food diaries might be simplified for specific individual needs.
Kidney Disease Food Journals
- “Fish consumption was identified in a 24-hour dietary recall and a 3-day food diary collected at baseline (near treatment start) and a 3-day food diary collected 1 year later.” Note that diet planning for kidney disease patients is tricky. So you should consult a qualified renal dietitian.
- Low Protein
- “Protein intake was evaluated by food diary and 24 h-food recall.” Note: “The potential benefits and dangers of dietary protein restriction in chronic kidney disease (CKD) are still controversial.” So the renal dietitian warning still applies.
Low Bone Mass Food Journals
Bone Health Indicators
- “food intake diary by 24 hours recall.” In this study researchers had to rely on 24-hour recall. But this is open to error. So you should maintain your journal throughout each day.
Obesity Food Journals
dietary habits were collected using a 7-d food diary. …Participants reported reductions in total and commercial food caloric intakes, with higher protein and lower fat consumption
Note, my list is not exhaustive. So if you suspect a food diary might help with other diseases please let me know. Then I will investigate and extend this list.
Your Benefits from Food Diary Records
You can see that food diaries help with several diseases. If you are considering using a food diary to combat a specific disease:
- Learn the benefits of different food diary approaches. Particularly the symptom recording features.
- Discuss your nutrition needs with health professionals. Also check relevant test results to include in your journal.
Your doctor might have dietary advice for many diseases. So use data from your food diary to monitor:
- Your adherence to nutrition goals and eating habit changes
- Improvement in symptoms
Then seek a specialist consultation if you see no benefits.
This is my third article in this series. So you should also read:
Leave Benefits from Food Diary Records to read Your Food Diary.
Benefits from Food Diary Records References
- Braakhuis, Andrea et al. “The Effects of Dietary Nutrition Education on Weight and Health Biomarkers in Breast Cancer Survivors.” Medical sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,2 12. 2 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3390/medsci5020012
- Ryu, Seung Wan, Young Gil Son, and Myung Kyung Lee. “Motivators and barriers to adoption of a healthy diet by survivors of stomach cancer: A cross-sectional study.” European Journal of Oncology Nursing 44 (2020): 101703.
- Pichayapinyo, Panan et al. “Effects of a dietary modification on 2 h postprandial blood glucose in Thai population at risk of type 2 diabetes: An application of the Stages of Change Model.” International journal of nursing practice vol. 21,3 (2015): 278-85. doi:10.1111/ijn.12253
- Kim, Gyuri et al. “An information and communication technology-based centralized clinical trial to determine the efficacy and safety of insulin dose adjustment education based on a smartphone personal health record application: a randomized controlled trial.” BMC medical informatics and decision making vol. 17,1 109. 18 Jul. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12911-017-0507-4
- Witkow, Shulamit, Idit F. Liberty, Irina Goloub, Malka Kaminsky, Olga Otto, YONES ABU RABIA, and Ilana Harman Boehm. “341-OR: An Individualized, Simple, Patient-Centered Carb Counting Tool.” (2019): 341-OR.
- Zahedi, Mohammad Javad et al. “Low fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols diet versus general dietary advice in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology vol. 33,6 (2018): 1192-1199. doi:10.1111/jgh.14051
- Sawani, Ali et al. “Limiting Dietary Sugar Improves Pediatric Sinonasal Symptoms and Reduces Inflammation.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 21,6 (2018): 527-534. doi:10.1089/jmf.2017.0126
- Kutner, Nancy G et al. “Association of fish intake and survival in a cohort of incident dialysis patients.” American journal of kidney diseases : the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation vol. 39,5 (2002): 1018-24. doi:10.1053/ajkd.2002.32775
- Rizzetto, Felipe et al. “Chronic kidney disease progression: a retrospective analysis of 3-year adherence to a low protein diet.” Renal failure vol. 39,1 (2017): 357-362. doi:10.1080/0886022X.2017.1282374
- Park, Young-Joo et al. “Application and Effect of Mobiletype-Bone Health Intervention in Korean Young Adult Women with Low Bone Mass: A Randomized Control Trial.” Asian nursing research vol. 11,1 (2017): 56-64. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2017.03.005
- Morano, Milena et al. “A multicomponent, school-initiated obesity intervention to promote healthy lifestyles in children.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 32,10 (2016): 1075-80. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2016.03.007