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If you’re just starting on this series I definitely recommend you go over and check out Part 1. As a quick recap we discussed what the goal of keeping a food journal is a.k.a. piece together possible commonalities in symptoms by tracking foods, supplements, and symptoms everyday.
Now we’re on to the magical land of Part 2: What to Track in a Food Journal. I’m going to be covering lots of different items to track. Some may not apply to you. So please keep that in mind. If I think something is important or a non-negotiable I try to make that clear. As always feel free to ask questions in the comment box below! Or email me directly at email@example.com
What to Track?
Regardless if we’re monitoring sensitivities or an autoimmune disease there is a baseline for what we want to track. Those items are:
Food & Time of Meals
When we track food we want to be as specific as we can. If you go into your journal and write that you had a salad for lunch. Three months from now will you know what was on that salad? No way. We need to break things down ingredient by ingredient. Since you’re on elimination this shouldn’t be too difficult since most meals are comprised of pretty limited ingredients. A good meal entry might look something like this:
- Lunch – 11:30am
- Sunflower Oil
- Dried Oregano
Some may find it beneficial to track whether or not the ingredient is raw. If you have digestive sensitivities it could be that you tolerate cooked food better than raw especially when it comes to vegetables. By including the fact that I ate a salad as the heading that is a pretty good indicator that the resulting items are raw and not heated through but if it makes you feel better to specify it’s always an option. The only ingredient I don’t log is salt. It’s pretty safe to say all my meals have a healthy portion of salt in it. If you feel the need to log that as well definitely go for it!
Supplement/Medication Dosage & Time of Consumption
If you have to take special medication/supplements we want to make sure to keep track of the dosage being taken and the time it’s taken as well. If you have fluctuating dosage amounts or the dosage could be increased at any time this will help to make sure that the medication/supplement itself isn’t causing you issues. I’m usually taking my supplements with food so it gets appended on one of my meals to cover the time. If you take them separately just note the time next to the item.
I’ve yet to mention this before but it’s important to note. Supplements could also cause sensitivity triggers. Especially if they contain soy, gluten, or diary. If you plan to bring a new supplement into your rotation treat it like a new food and try one every 4 days.
Symptoms & Time of Onset
Symptoms cover anything that you consider to be a sign of a sensitivity trigger. For everyone this will be different. They could be hives, headaches, anxiety, bloating, among many other options. It’s important to try and log some pertinent information about the symptom. Where and when it occurred and how long it took for the symptom to clear. Here’s an example of a good symptom entry:
- Hives – 4:00pm
- Upper thigh and shoulder
- Cleared by 6:00pm
We want to track this type of information because this level of detail can not only help us figure out why the issue is happening but also track our progress as we continue through elimination. If you have hive entries throughout the first few months ideally we should see the size reference go from large to small and the time for them to clear also decrease. If we don’t keep track of that we may think we’ve continuously had the same level of the symptom throughout elimination which wouldn’t be totally accurate.
Something I would recommend everyone keep track out would be bowel movements. While normal bowel movements might not be considered a “symptom” an abnormal one definitely would be. I’ll go more into the format of how I personally track bowel movements in my food journal in the next post of the series. As a quick into I try to capture a few different items.
- How many bowel movements a day
- Type of Bowel Movement based on the Bristol Stool Chart
- Time of Bowel Movement
- Any extra details I may need (size, color, painful, etc.)
I understand this isn’t the most glamorous thing but I’m not going around showing my food journal to strangers (except you all when I show you next post, ha) it’s for my eyes only and this is what helps me feel better.
These base line items can be all you need to figure out what is effecting you. However, just to make my life even more exciting I tend to track a couple extra items because I know those effect my state of mind and my digestive health. Those items are:
- Water Intake
- I’ve noticed when I get enough water during the day not only do I feel better, but my bowel movements are so much easier. I don’t even need some of my supplements. I know this is common sense but just tracking it helps me to remember to drink as much as I can!
- Menstrual cycle
- Obviously this one only effects the ladies. I don’t know about you guys but when I’m on my cycle it definitely effects my tummy. I don’t want to blame a symptom on a food when it was really Aunt Flow. Also would be good to see if you have any symptom relief for bad PMS as elimination goes on.
- I track hours of sleep which usually directly relates to the next line item…
- Stress (broken into Morning, Afternoon, and Night)
- I have a lot of stress in my life. I firmly believe chronic stress caused my gut health problems. I like to keep a tight eye on my stress levels. I have a nervous stomach and if my stress level gets too high you can bet I’ll be marking off some numbers on that Bristol chart. (Gross I know but maybe you laughed with me?)
Wow! Well that escalated quickly and I had a lot more to say than I initially thought I did. That’s why I’ve decided to make this three part series a four part series. I could go into how to track and all the different methods for tracking right now but you all would probably be either sleeping or drooling by the time I got to the end. So I’ll leave it here for now.
Next time we will take an actual peek into my food journal and I’ll show you guys how I track all the items I’ve mentioned here. Spoiler: it’s not quite as intimidating when you see it on paper.
What do you guys think so far? Would more posts like these be beneficial to you? Do you hate them? I can take it! I really want to know your thoughts. Comment below. Don’t forget about our new Facebook Group to gain support from your fellow eliminators HERE! As always subscribe to stay up to date with OCD Kitchen thangs. (Yes. I said thangs.)