Young woman sitting on couch with food journal

Benefits of keeping a food journal

Think certain foods might be the culprit for your digestive issues, headaches, or fatigue? Grab a notebook! Food journals can serve as useful organization tools to help you track what foods you are taking in, when you experience symptoms, and how the two might be connected. Food journaling can also encourage accountability when making dietary changes. Why? The simple act of self-monitoring a behavior can promote changes that help you reach a goal—like eating foods that make you feel good instead of causing symptoms.

If you’re undertaking a two-part elimination diet (where you temporarily eliminate certain foods from your diet and then add them back while watching for symptoms), a food journal helps you keep track of key dates—like when you started the elimination phase, when you completed it, and when you began the add-back challenge. It’s also a good way to record your observations following each reintroduction of a particular food.

Tips for effective food journaling

  • Choose your preferred journaling method - a notebook, a free downloadable template online, or an app.
  • Set aside specific times (and set reminders) throughout the day to write in your journal.
  • Keep note of things beyond just the food, such as symptoms and mood observations.

Example food journal template for inspiration

As inspiration, here’s an example template for food journaling during a two-part elimination diet.

Food journaling template example

You’d start by temporarily eliminating your list of “suspect foods,” then gradually add those foods back to your diet—and record any symptoms connected with a food you add back. With the simple template shown above, you’d just log the date you removed a food from your diet and the date you reintroduced it—and jot down symptoms you experienced and other observations in the “Notes” column.

The Everlywell at-home Food Sensitivity Test is a great way to get an initial list of “suspect” foods you can use to guide your two-part elimination diet—which can help make it easier to discover the symptom-causing foods in your diet.

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Burke LE, Wang J, Sevick MA. Self-monitoring in weight loss: a systematic review of the literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(1):92–102. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008

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