Like gas to a car, food is the fuel that moves your body. For those with a food sensitivity, filling your body with certain foods is like filling your car with the wrong gas—it’s not going to work like it should. Symptoms of a food sensitivity could include headaches, migraines, bloating, indigestion, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal distress. While these symptoms can be obvious, pinpointing the source of your symptoms can be difficult since we’re often exposed to many different types of food on a given day.
This is where food journaling comes in. A simple food journal can serve as a useful organization tool to help you track what foods you are consuming, how you feel (including any unwanted symptoms), and how the two could be connected. Read on to see exactly how to keep a food journal to help identify food sensitivities that may be contributing to your discomfort.
A food journal is a daily log used to track what food and drinks you consume each day. It can help you understand your eating habits, identify unwanted symptoms, and inform the best diet decisions when it comes to you and your body. By logging your diet and any symptoms you experience after eating those foods, you can work toward identifying patterns in how your body reacts to the food you consume on a daily basis.
This can then help you formulate a temporary elimination diet where you temporarily remove foods you suspect are contributing to unwanted symptoms. After a few weeks (many elimination diets, like FODMAP for irritable bowel syndrome, use 4-6 weeks), reintroduce them and monitor for changes in how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. The goal of food journaling is to help you figure out if a food is connected to an unwanted symptom that you are experiencing.
If you think you may have a food sensitivity, use the journal sheets below to begin your food journaling journey.
There are several reasons that you may want to begin food journaling. Regardless of whether you suspect a food or foods may be causing unwanted symptoms, there are many benefits of food journaling. It can not only help you identify patterns in how certain foods make you feel, but it can also encourage accountability when making dietary changes to improve your overall health and lifestyle.
By self-monitoring your eating behaviors, you become more mindful of your consumption. With this, you can track your relationship with food, jot down your progress to reaching dietary goals (like limiting your sweetened beverage consumption), or identify foods that just make you feel better.
Among the most common reasons for food journaling? Experiencing any of the following symptoms (and suspecting they are related to food):
Identifying food sensitivities can be a challenge. Unlike a food allergy, where allergens trigger a severe immune response, with a nearly immediate reaction time, symptoms of a food sensitivity can be delayed a few days following the ingestion of a trigger food. Because of this, people who have food sensitivities can go a lifetime without ever knowing. However, food sensitivities can affect your health and mood, making them important to discover. Below we’ve listed a few tips for uncovering food sensitivities.
To track your progress, download and print out the food sensitivity tracker below to log any triggering foods for your diet after discovering your food sensitivities. You can keep this sheet to remind you what foods to stay away from when planning and preparing your meals, or bring it to your primary healthcare provider for a more in-depth look at what may be causing your symptoms.
Once you’ve discovered a food or foods that trigger unwanted symptoms, you may want to eliminate or reduce your consumption to ensure you are fueling your body with ingredients that make you feel your best. When it comes to meal planning with food sensitivities, look for new recipes or substitutions that can help you feel satisfied and enjoy mealtime, but without the uncomfortable symptoms.
Ingredients like eggs, cow’s milk, and gluten are among the most common foods people have a high immune reactivity to. Below, we’ve listed simple substitutions for these foods for easy reference when planning and preparing your meals.
Egg (both white and yolk) protein substitutions:
Egg substitutes to use in baking:
The bottom line is that food sensitivities can literally be a pain. So, consider giving food journaling a try! It can be a great way to not only figure out what foods are linked to your symptoms, but also help you create an overall healthier diet and lifestyle.
In addition to food journaling, taking an at-home Food Sensitivity Test or Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Test is a quick and easy way to test a broad set of foods and get results that can help guide a temporary elimination diet.
We understand that tracking, eliminating, or restricting foods can lead to or trigger disordered eating behavior in some people. For this reason, it is not recommended to take the Food Sensitivity test if you currently have or are in recovery for an eating disorder (such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder).