You may have heard of the term ‘food diary’ or ‘food journal’, but what exactly is it and what do they entail? And is tracking foods with CKD important? That is where a renal diet tracker can help.
A food journal or diary is a daily log to track what you consume each day. Through tracking your food, you keep a record of all food, meals, and beverages including the portion size consumed and the time you are consuming them. The key to accuracy is being as specific as possible, jotting down everything from sauces to how the dish was prepared (fried or baked).
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Renal Diet Tracker Benefits
Now you might be wondering why should you track your food. What are the benefits associated with using a food tracker and how will this help you maintain a balanced diet while following your health goals? Let’s dive in to benefits of tracking foods with CKD.
- Food tracking informs you of your food’s nutrient value – food trackers provide the ability for you to log your food intake and reveal exactly how many calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and micronutrients or vitamins and minerals (potassium, phosphorus, calcium, etc.) you need and how many you are actually getting.
- A renal diet tracker raises nutritional awareness – recording all foods consumed will make you more aware of the nutritional content of what you are consuming and the healthfulness of your diet. This will help you make informed decisions about your diet while ensuring you are meeting your nutritional needs.
- Food tracking holds you accountable– when you consistently log foods consumed, it holds you accountable for what you eat, becoming more intentional about why and when you are eating. It encourages mindful eating and can help resist mindless snacking and temptations by thinking twice about your food choices and goals.
- Food tracking identifies patterns – food records can reveal unhealthy patterns in your eating habits such as emotional eating or specific times of the day when you are more prone to making unhealthy choices.
- Food tracking and personalized meal planning – a record of your food intake allows you to analyze your eating habits and create personalized meal plans to ensure you are getting a balanced diet and meeting specific dietary requirements or preferences.
Drawbacks Of Renal Diet Tracker
While there are many benefits that come with tracking foods with CKD y, it is important to be aware of some potential risks that may come along with it. These include:
- Hyper focused on eating – tracking food intake can lead to obsessive behaviours around food which can contribute to the development or exacerbation of disordered eating patterns for some individuals. As a result, tracking food is not for everyone.
- Negative emotional impact – constant monitoring and scrutinizing of food choices can result in feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame, especially when consuming foods you perceive as unhealthy. This can be detrimental to your relationship with food and overall wellbeing. So again, tracking food is not for everyone.
- Inaccurate or incomplete data – it can be challenging to have an accurate log and estimate portion sizes, track ingredients in complex dishes, or account for cooking methods. This leads to misleading insights or ineffective dietary adjustments.
- Potential nutrient deficiencies – An excessive focus on quantity rather than quality can persist through heavily relying on tracking apps or strict calorie goals. This may lead to an inadequate intake of vital nutrients when the diet is unbalanced or highly restrictive. Plus working with a renal dietitian can give you an overall picture of your health as it is more personalized.
Kidney-Friendly Tracking Apps
There are a variety of food tracking apps available that can help you track your food intake and manage your nutritional needs.
- Cronometer – a free app that focuses on detailed nutrient tracking, allowing you to track micronutrients and calories. It entails a large database of foods, supports barcode scanning, and insights into nutrient intake based on recommended daily values.
- Kidney Community Kitchen – this site provides information and tools to help you manage your renal diet, allowing you to build a personalized menu plan with information from the Canadian Nutrient File database by the Government of Canada.
- MyFitnessPal – offers a comprehensive food database, calorie and macronutrient tracking, and the ability to set personalized goals as well as insights into nutrient intake and exercise tracking. But be sure to look for verified data.
These are some popular examples of apps available but remember to explore different apps, compare their features, and choose one that best aligns with your goals and preferences!
So, Should You Be Tracking Foods With CKD?
Tracking can be informative with CKD, but it is not the only way to meet your health goals. The is key to approach food tracking with a balanced mindset and to be mindful of your emotional well-being. If you have concerns, a history of disordered eating, or specific requirements and preferences, it is advisable to reach out to a registered dietitian who can provide guidance tailored to your needs.
If tracking is not for you, knowing the nutrition information of your foods can help. Pre-made kidney friendly meals are available too. Check out this option.
Want to work together? Connect with Kidney Nutrition here.
This article was written by Neha Dewan, Nutrition Student Volunteer.
This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.