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J Ren Nutr. 2005 Jul;15(3):281-90.

Self-monitoring dietary intake: current and future practices.

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  • 1Department of Health & Community Systems, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA. Lbu100@pitt.edu


This article reviews the literature on the use of paper diaries for self-monitoring food intake, identifies the strengths and limitations of paper-and-pencil diaries and their new counterpart, the electronic diary or personal digital assistant (PDA), and reports how participants were trained to use a PDA with dietary software in two pilot studies--one with hemodialysis patients and the other with participants in a weight loss study. The report of the pilot studies focuses on the practical issues encountered in training participants in the use of a PDA and addresses the pros and cons of different dietary software programs. Six hemodialysis patients were trained in the first study and seven participants attempting to lose or maintain their weight were trained in the second pilot study. The training focused on how to use a PDA and how to navigate the dietary software to self-monitor food intake. The goals of using the PDA were to improve adherence to the therapeutic diets and to self-monitoring. Lessons learned from the pilot studies are shared.

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