Keeping a food diary for intolerances may help you identify the specific elements in your diet that aggravate your health. Food sensitivities can be difficult to identify, especially when a person suffers from multiple intolerances or sensitivities. In such cases, a single elimination may not be enough to cover your gamut of food issues. Keeping a journal that records your dietary changes and symptom nuances is an excellent step towards isolating aggravating factors.
About Food Intolerances
Food intolerances are marked by your body's response to a certain food. When a person is intolerant to a certain food substance a multitude of symptoms can occur. Most commonly, these symptoms manifest themselves through the body's almost immediate need to rid itself of the offending substance. Hence, digestive symptoms are often the first recognizable physiological response your body will muster.
Vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps are characteristic of a food intolerance. These symptoms commonly occur as the result of your body attempting to reject the ingested food matter. Celiac patients often manifest these painful digestive symptoms, in response to the ingestion of gluten. However, celiac disease marks a case of severe autoimmune-induced gluten intolerance, during which the body musters a powerful immune response to gluten. In this event, a celiac's body actually attacks its own intestinal lining in an overdrawn effort to exterminate the gluten. Most non-celiac gluten and food intolerances will not result in such a dramatic and degenerative condition, but food intolerances can be dangerous. They can sometimes severely compromise one's quality of life when they remain unidentified.
Maintaining a Food Diary for Intolerances
So you suspect you suffer from some kind of food intolerance, likely because your post-meal symptoms are marked and uncomfortable. Perhaps you are experiencing the aforementioned digestive distress, or maybe just a general fatigue and malaise after eating. It's also possible that your suspected intolerances are merely the culmination of a food sensitivity. Regardless, this specific food remains unidentified, and it's possible there may be more than one culprit at play.
Individuals who are proactive regarding their health may embark on an elimination diet to identify these offending food substances. An elimination diet represents a very restricted and basic diet comprised of basic foods that are typically non-allergenic and sensitive for the general populace. Foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs are common allergens and are often not present during an elimination diet. Your doctor will help you draw up a good dietary plan to maintain during the weeks of your elimination diet. If you are attempting this effort without medical supervision, you will have to create your own plan that consists of the foods you feel are least likely to be provoking your symptoms.
During this elimination diet you will keep a food diary for intolerances. You will journal precisely what you eat during meals, and you will also record your symptoms after meals and throughout the day. It is important to record the exact times you ate a certain food substance. If you experience no symptoms during your elimination diet, then this indicates the offending food has been successfully eliminated, and now you can start incorporating certain foods back slowly into your diet. Again, you will be journaling each specific change. It is important to introduce foods one by one so you can monitor changes with more accuracy.
If you are working through this process with a doctor, he will want to see your food diary. Here is where the importance of detail comes into play. Certain symptoms can be linked more specifically to certain food substances. A special rash may indicate a gluten intolerance whereas dairy intolerances can be indicated by an excess of mucus in the respiratory tract. You will want to record every symptom, even those which seem almost too slight to mention. Your doctor may have an insight into the issue that you do not possess.
Not all doctors are experts with food intolerances. Even a food diary may not be enough to save you from either further testing or the abandonment of a food intolerance diagnosis in favor of other ailments. However, after undergoing an elimination diet, an individual may notice a reduction in symptoms that point to a certain food, and yet, further tests do not confirm such results. Some celiacs receive blood tests while they are currently eliminating gluten from their diet and, hence, the test does not reveal a gluten intolerance. This is not surprising, since there was no gluten left in the diet to which the individual would be intolerant.
If eliminating a food from your diet results in a reduction of symptoms that is not validated by further tests, it is always a good idea to refrain from that food. Laboratory tests are not always accurate. How you feel is every bit as important as what is written on your medical charts. Many food intolerances are misdiagnosed for a number of reasons, so if you begin to feel better when a certain food has been removed from your daily regimen, it is safe to assume your body experiences some dysfunction with this substance and it can be safely avoided long term.