Dear Diary: Why Keeping a Health Journal Works
Ever gain five pounds and really have no idea what could have caused it? You've been eating as you normally do and getting your regular walks in. Except maybe you forgot to account for those pieces of birthday cake at the office, the sampling around the table at a recent dinner with friends, or the missed exercise due to a stretch of bad weather. It's easy to forget, or ignore, the little things that can quickly add up to bigger problems.
So how do you keep a handle on your health care habits? Since having someone follow you around with a video camera all day is probably not an option (unless you have your own reality TV show), keeping a written diary or log of things like food, exercise, and blood sugar test results is the next best way to get an accurate picture of your healthcare habits.
What is a Health Diary, or Journal?
Any written or electronic record you keep of health-related activities (e.g., eating, exercise), of regular test results (e.g., blood glucose, weight), or of your physical or emotional status (e.g., logging pain symptoms, mood changes) can be considered a health diary. Sometimes these diaries are also called logs, trackers, or journals.
While you can log everything from sleep patterns to pulse rate, closely tracking the three key areas of blood sugar, food, and exercise will give you a solid foundation on which to keep tabs on your diabetes.
Why Keep Health Diaries?
Making daily entries in a health diary, or log, raises your awareness of the choices you make that impact your diabetes. They deter us from bad habits like mindless eating in front of the TV and grazing. On the flip side, health diaries can also promote better health habits, especially if you have specific diabetes goals you are trying to reach; writing down a daily pedometer reading or workout routine in an exercise diary gives you both a sense of achievement and a written record of moving one step closer to your goal.
Perhaps most importantly, health diaries offer you important information to use in do some diabetes detective work; you can see what foods may have caused your blood sugar to spike, and how exercise may help bring it back down again.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...