Finding a pattern requires keeping track. Identifying foods that irritate your system may involve a lengthy investigation. A fasting diet can help, but when issues linger after the primary culprits are eliminated, things get a little more complicated. Recording the foods you ingest each day can reveal unexpected patterns that can help.
It’s easy to think that we’ll remember what we’ve eaten without recording it. If you’ve ever been on a calorie-counting diet you probably know that’s rarely true. You simply have to write it down somewhere or you’ll miss some little something along the way.
When looking for irritants, you also need to record how you feel each day. Cross-referencing the two can bring the greatest insights.
It took me awhile to figure out Cheerios caused my dermatitis herpetiformis to flare because I was intermittently consuming another problem product that used optical sorting of oats. The effect of the combination was misleading at first, but watching the pattern over time helped me figure it out.
You don’t need anything fancy to keep track. A notepad and pen with some highlighters will do the trick. It’s more important to tailor your system to your habits. What will be the most accessible, easy, and least interruptive way to accomplish the task?
If you want the ability to sort the information in a variety of ways, consider a spreadsheet program. In a pinch, you can put each day’s meals into the notes app on your phone.
Beyond that, other diet apps can do double duty, helping you to see the nutritional composition of your diet or the number of calories consumed while also helping you keep track of what you’ve eaten. It will be best to choose an app that allows you to record how you feel as well as what you’ve eaten and has a way for you to easily recall or export a history.
If you want to reduce the typing, spend a couple of weeks creating a checklist of everything you eat. Let that be your master list so that you can just checkboxes on the list for each meal. It will be helpful to alphabetize the list and leave room for the date and notes on how you feel.
You can record symptoms after each meal or just in general for the whole day. Often symptoms will be delayed and impossible to relate to a specific meal so a daily recap can be effective.
Don’t just record expected symptoms. Note if you feel lethargic, fatigued, foggy, itchy, tight in your skin, or irritable when touched. These can all be early clues that occur before more significant symptoms. If there’s a pattern, eventually you’ll be able to see how quickly they appear after ingestion of certain foods.
Reviewing monthly and looking for patterns should be sufficient. If you find none, it’s okay. But when you do, every minute of time and effort will feel worth it. Any piece of the puzzle that lessens symptoms and improves how you feel is worth keeping track.