When you’re not feeling well and trying to determine what’s causing your symptoms, a food diary can help. But, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you… keeping a food diary is a pain in the keister. It’s a challenge to stop and write down what you’ve eaten every second of every day.
With that said, however, it’s also impossible to remember every little thing you may have eaten during the day, so sometimes, when symptoms are persistent and a complete mystery, taking the time to keep track of your food and liquid can make it much easier and faster to find the root cause of why you’re not feeling well. The food diary will reveal patterns of food-to-mood, food-to-discomfort. Once you understand the patterns and connections, you can begin to make changes that allow your body to heal itself.
How it works
So, let’s say you’ve been eating clean for the last six days, and you grab a Starbucks latte on your way home from work as a pick-me-up. Then, an hour later, you notice you have stomach cramps. You can review the food diary to see what you had eaten prior to feeling this way and then narrow it down from there… was it the cream or the coffee, did you add soy milk, almond milk, cinnamon?
It’s not just about the usual stomach cramps and headaches
The food diary can also be used to track your moods, joint pain, brain fog, headaches, sleep (or lack of) and skin after you eat certain foods. For example, did you break out after eating something (hives, rash, or acne), did you experience brain fog one, two, or three days later, were you grumpy for no apparent reason, did your sinuses clog up all of a sudden, did your joints start to ache, did you have trouble sleeping? All of these should be noted on the diary as well.
I’ve attached a copy of the food diary >>here<< that we use at This Honest Food during the 7-Day Real Food Reset (available again when we open our teaching kitchen). The diary is for one day, so you’ll need to print out one for every day you’re tracking. As you’ll see, there are sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. In the “quantity” section, jot down an approximate number like “approx 1 cup peas,” or “1 tall Starbucks latte with cream” — it doesn’t have to be completely exact because you’re just looking for patterns of how certain foods affect you.
Try filling this in for the next three days and see if you notice any patterns of how you feel after eating or drinking certain foods. This works especially well after you’ve eliminated processed foods from your diet.
Take the food diary, along with this >>successful doctor visit<< worksheet with you next time you go to the doctor. Both of these will help guide your visit in a way that will help get to the root cause of why you’re not feeling well. And that’s the goal: find the root cause so you can stop it from happening.
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