Keeping a food journal can also be a great diagnostic aid if you want to discover possible food intolerances (sometimes even true food allergies). Paired with a blood test like FIT (linky links), mapping out which foods are bothering you becomes a lot more transparent.
How to get started
Keeping a food journal is much like keeping a diary. Instead of your daily activities, you track your meals down to every component. However, a food journal is not about dieting, tracking calories, or losing weight, it’s about gaining insight about your eating habits and how eating certain foods might affect you in your day-to-day life.
While there are many apps that help you track your daily meals and its components, we recommend starting your food journal the old-fashioned way – with a pen and paper. This way, you can add a lot of information that is very specific to you only. Most apps focus on tracking meals for dieting purposes and the features won’t be customizable enough for keeping track of possible food intolerances.
So, what should be the content of your food journal? We recommend starting with 4 columns of basic information:
- What did I eat? (Including separate ingredients)
- How much did I eat?
- When did I eat it?
- How did I feel after I ate it? (Describe symptoms and when they appear)
An example for a food diary entry could look like this:
What did I eat?
Oatmeal made with cow’s milk, topped with blueberries and chopped almonds
When did I eat it?
How much of it did I eat?
How did I feel after I ate it?
Bloated approx. 1 hour after eating
You might be wondering how to handle pre-packaged foods. We believe you have three options: You can either copy the ingredient list into your journal, or you can cut it from the packaging and attach it to your journal. If you choose to go the digital route, you can also take a picture of the ingredient list and keep it in a food journal folder on your smartphone.
What you can expect
If you keep journaling for several weeks, it is likely that a certain pattern of symptoms and related foods you ate will emerge. If you’re going to consult a doctor or nutritionist, don’t be shy to share the contents of your journal. It will be a helpful tool for them and make it easier to create an individualized treatment and/or diet plan for you.
Of course, you always have the option to take matters into your own hands and choose to test for food intolerances from the comfort of your own home with our FIT Food Intolerance Test – especially if you are noticing a repetition of symptoms that could be related to an intolerance to a certain food.