Whether you are working with your doctor to find out the source of your allergies, or just trying to keep track of your reactions, a food diary can be a useful tool. It can help you keep a balanced diet and provide you with a tangible piece of information to provide your allergist. And while a food diary in no place replaces medical testing, it can be a great first step to recognizing your symptoms and getting them under control.
Why a Food Diary?
When someone is experiencing allergy symptoms, the first thing their doctor wants to do is figure out which foods might be the cause of the reaction. Given this, collecting data on the patients diet and symptoms can hep the doctor narrow down the possibilities and more accurately diagnose them. With a food diary, your doctor is looking to connect pieces of a puzzle – which symptoms come as a result of which meals?
Starting a Food Log
There are a number of ways to keep a food diary. Make sure that you choose the option that best suits your lifestyle, ensuring you will stick with the tracking.
Pick a Planner – Some people like to put pen to paper, others find electronic planners to be easiest and some prefer jam-packed binders. Whatever your style, it’s important you know what options are out there before making a decision. Remember, your food log needs to be consistent in order to work, so make sure you choose a planner that will be east for you to access and to stick with.
Plan Ahead – For people who meal prep, there’s no shame is writing ahead. As long as you make sure to fill in any blanks, you can keep yourself organized with an already prepped planner.
Include Every Detail – Brand, ingredients, time and even amounts. Every detail can be vital when it comes to breaking down your symptoms. Make sure that you have every piece of information that you cold possibly need, after all, it is better to have too much than not enough.
That said, if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by the amount of detail you are writing down, it may be okay to let up. While having a detailed diary is the best-case scenario, it isn’t worth the risk of stopping to track completely. If the obsessive tracking makes you want to quit keeping your food diary, then try letting up on the detail for a little while.
Track your Symptoms – If you find yourself experiencing an allergic reaction make sure that you write it down. Include the time, the reaction and what exactly you’re feeling. Having this information can help you and your doctor recognize patterns and begin to break down symptoms.
You are the Boss
When it comes to your health, you are your own boss. No one can force you to be truthful or accurate in your food diary, however, if you’re serious about getting better, than you need to hold yourself accountable. That said, bosses have employees, and there is no shame in recruiting someone to help you stay on track. Ask a friend, spouse, child or colleague to give you gentle reminders throughout your day.
Edit your Work
As with every piece of writing, your food diary may require some editing. When it comes to food intolerances, there is sometimes a delayed reaction. If you find this to be the case, it could be helpful to go back and edit your entry. By including this delayed reaction, you are providing your doctor with a more accurate understanding of what your body is going through.
When looking through your food diary, your doctor will likely be looking for any patterns and consistencies. Given this, tracking your reactions with some highlighting can help your allergist follow your reactions and more accurately diagnose your allergies.
Don’t Play Games
When using a food diary, you may feel a compulsion to try and track your anaphylaxis reactions. However, anaphylaxis is not a game and should not be tested without the presence of a licensed physician. Do not try and track your symptoms with foods that you already know you are allergic to! Food diaries are a fantastic tool for people who are trying to understand their symptoms, but it is not a medical treatment and should not be treated as such.
Food diaries are a great tool for parents. With food allergies on the rise, many parents are wary about which foods they add to their child’s diet. However, avoiding those foods entirely is not recommended by most doctors. Given this, many parents turn to food diaries in order to track their child’s development and see which foods may not be agreeing with them. Whether you have a family history of food allergies or not, understanding your baby’s reaction to solid foods is never a bad idea.
Food diaries are a great first step for anyone trying to understand their reactions and symptoms. With the help of your doctor along with smart tracking, understanding and diagnosing your allergies may prove to be easier than anticipated. Be an active part of your own health!