Food journaling — tracking foods that you eat on a meal-by-meal basis — is a useful method to support mindful eating. It can help you better understand your eating habits and patterns. It can also help you to identify the foods — both healthy and unhealthy — that you eat regularly.
Keeping a food journal has specific benefits for people with Parkinson’s Disease because it can support dietary changes and eating patterns that slow disease progression and improve management of symptoms.
Research findings show that diet can have a big impact on PD symptoms and disease progression.
Common foods correlated with more rapid PD progression include:
Canned veggies and fruit
Soda and diet soda
Foods typical of a Mediterranean diet are associated with a reduced rate of PD progression:
Nuts and seeds
Fish (not fried)
Food journaling can help you to become more aware of your diet and to avoid foods that contribute to PD disease progression.
Tracking your eating patterns throughout the day can also help you get an adequate amount of protein and the most benefit from your medications.
Protein is important because it helps with
muscle repair after exercise and prevention of muscle wasting
building healthy bones and skin
immune system health
A good rule is to have a 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
Levodopa is absorbed in the same part of your gut as protein, meaning there can be a competition from protein in foods that you eat. It can decrease the absorption of levadopa if eaten too close to medication time; however, protein is also important for our body to work properly.
A good rule is that you can take your medication an hour before eating or wait 30-60 minutes after you have eaten.
Tips for successful food journaling
Just try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself when you first begin your food journal. If it feels challenging yet manageable, it’s likely to be beneficial. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next day.
Write down the food or drinks as soon as you consume it. Don’t wait until the end of the day because your recollection will be less accurate.
Be as specific as you can with the food or drink. For example, note the type and size of that coffee you have every afternoon.
Be sure to include any alcoholic beverages you consume.
Your diet logs need to tell the truth. You don’t gain anything by cheating to look good.
A smartphone app like MyFitnessPal can support your efforts. Food tracking apps also offer information on calories and other nutrients.
Don’t wait to get started! Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/pdf/food_diary_cdc.pdf to download and print a blank food diary so you can start logging your food and drinks today.