For many physical complaints, a food diary is a great way to get a diagnosis of the cause. From irritable bowel syndrome to food intolerance, the only way to reach a comprehensive diagnosis and find an effective treatment is to know exactly what is causing the symptoms you’re suffering from.
Keeping a food diary is a simple way to draw connections between certain foods and their reactions, without relying on your own memory. Before trying a pointless detox to try to overcome your symptoms, give this a go. If you’re suffering from digestion problems, even mildly, a food diary over a period of a couple of weeks could really help you to develop an understanding of the connection between what you eat and how you feel.
Choose your Diary
First things first, you need to find the diary you’re actually going to use. It’s your choice whether you use lined paper or plain but it needs to be small enough to be able to transport it around with you – it’s far easier to keep an accurate diary when you write everything down immediately after you eat it. Even a daily diary could work, providing it is small enough to transport but big enough to write in.
Write Down Everything you Put in Your Mouth
The key to this operation is to be specific. This means, if you make a salad, write down everything you put in this salad, including quantities. “Salad” simply won’t cut it, you need weights, measures, and specifics. Do this for everything you eat and drink, including on a night out (yes, a wedge of lime in a gin and tonic still needs to be noted!). The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to start drawing parallels between foods and reactions. Keep notes of times and dates too, as sometimes reactions are not immediate.
Write Down the Reaction
Make a brief note of how you feel at the following intervals: 10-15 minutes after eating, an hour after eating, and six hours after eating. Also make notes of any other symptoms you experience, and the time following the most recent meal. Some food intolerances can take a few hours to spark off after food. It’s also helpful to keep notes of how you feel before you eat, because this can impact how much you eat, but also how you feel as the result of food.
Look for Patterns
Once you have a few days worth of data you can start drawing connections between certain food types and side effects. You may have an inkling about what the food is that is causing you problems, but don’t neglect to explore other avenues – the real cause could surprise you.
Once you’ve spent some time looking for connections, it’s up to you whether you just cut a food from your diet, or whether you visit your doctor. If you have symptoms of IBS, it could be worth visiting them for advice on IBS probiotics and treatments. They will also be able to advise how to best proceed with your food intolerance, and the potential of reintroducing this food into your diet in the future.
Keeping a food diary is really useful if you’re trying to diagnose an intolerance or digestive issue. Just remember, the more accurate and thorough you can be, the better.