I am a big fan of journaling. I use journals for everything. Organization, venting, keeping track of time and the events in my life. My favorite kind is the journal you get to destroy at the end, so nobody gets to see what you wrote :). Today we are going to talk about the food diary. Until recently, I had not used this particular tool because I don’t think I realized all the benefits of keeping track of the diet. I think I thought, I know what I eat, I’m pretty sure how it affects me and that I’ve got it under control. The fact of the matter is that the memory plays tricks on us and is sometimes not as honest as it can be, hence, the diary. The food diary is so much more than writing down what you eat. It carries over into so many different parts of your wellness. If you don’t do it, I think you’ll be surprised.
It’s not just what you eat
As mentioned, the food diary is not JUST what you eat. Cataloging what you eat, when you eat it and how you eat it (standing up, sitting down, in the car, running to the bus). I think the most important aspect to the actual food is honesty. Do NOT neglect to include the ‘mistakes’…the burger you had at midnight, the Chinese food or the pound of potato salad you ate at your parents. You may think that this is coming from personal experience. Well, you’re right. Food is not the only ingestible that goes in the diary. Liquid…coffee, tea, water (how much), alcohol (and don’t fudge). Other…cigarettes, medication, illicit substances ;), all go in the diary…if you want the diary to help. It’s like going to a therapist and only telling them part of the story. They can’t help you unless you are HONEST. The next part of an effective food diary is your feelings the day of the diet. How is the IBS? How do you feel physically and mentally? Was there something going on that day that could have contributed to how you felt? These are all important things to consider when going back to review the diary. After all, the diary is meant to help you make changes to improve your IBS and your wellness. Be as detailed as you can be.
A tool to share
The food diary can also be very important to your health providers. Take it with you when you visit your doctors. You can refer back to your extraordinarily detailed saga of dietary, physical and mental health. This will help the doctors get a very clear picture of what is working and what is not. It will also help to determine whether or not outside factors, such as stress, environment, relationships and the like are contributing factors. Although, the food diary can take a bit of time to get used to and to incorporate into your day, I think you’ll find when you are struggling with IBS or any other digestive or stomach issues, it can be one of the most important things in your toolbox.