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August 13, 2011 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Trying to get on top of some long-standing food sensitivities/intolerances, and looking for recommendations on what to put in a food/dietary log.

After years of chronic bellyaches and lots of experimentation with diet and elimination of various foods, I'm determined to get to the bottom of what's ailing my poor tummy. I'll be going to see a GI specialist soon, and I've pretty much completely cut out gluten, among other things.

I've been meaning to keep a food log/journal to have a clearer sense of what foods affect me and how. My basic sense is that it would be useful to write down every single thing I consume, as well as how I feel immediately and later on. Other things I've thought about including are amount of sleep and stress level. Has anyone done this and is there anything else you found to be useful to track? Any suggestions would be most appreciated!
posted by purplefiber to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
 
Just a reminder not to forget drinks! For example, caffeinated beverages really affect me.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 9:31 PM on August 13, 2011


I would do something like this, but only journal it at the end of the day. Obsessing over every single ingredient of every single meal would give anyone a stomach ache every time they ate. In fact this may be why you're thinking of writing it down in the first place.

I'd wager you could remember it offhand anyway.
posted by sanka at 9:35 PM on August 13, 2011


Just fyi - I remember when I had my blood test for gluten they specifically told me not to cut it out drastically before having the test, but maybe things have changed.
posted by quodlibet at 9:44 PM on August 13, 2011


I use fitday for foods sometimes. It will keep a log of everything and you can get nutritional breakdown of fats, minerals etc.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:47 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From my own experience, waiting to the end of the day doesn't work. Jot things down as you consume them or you will forget things.
posted by Lexica at 9:51 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, don't cut gluten until you've had a blood test if you're going that route. I found an iPhone app called My Allergy Detective to be really helpful, if you have a smartphone.
posted by sugarfish at 9:53 PM on August 13, 2011


Great answers so far- thank you! Please keep them coming. And for those of you who suggested not cutting out gluten before the test, help me out: I know that gluten upsets my stomach, I have quite immediate reactions to it. It's hard to think about continuing to eat it for another month until the tests in order to keep my stomach lining inflamed. Would it be enough to just eat a cookie the day before I go in? (Mmmm, cookies!)
posted by purplefiber at 10:01 PM on August 13, 2011


Gluten intollerance often comes along with fructose malabsorption - so basically anything with a higher proportion of fructose to glucose will upset you. This includes fruits and veggies as diverse as onions, tomatoes, pineapples and avocadoes. Have a bit of a look into it if gluten alone doesn't seem to be the answer...
posted by nothing too obvious at 11:34 PM on August 13, 2011


There are many many self-tracker apps out there for tracking everything from food to sleep to mood to pain to whatever. The Quantified Self site is a good place to start.
posted by judith at 11:48 PM on August 13, 2011


I feel uniquely qualified to answer this! I'm doing something similar with fermentable carbohydrates right now (seriously, today is day one of 30-something), and spent last night trying to be as scientific about it as possible. I actually looked at a few IBS clinical studies and came up with the following modified questionnaire:

Mental Health
Are you currently suffering from anxiety? Y/N.
..If yes, how severe would you rate it? (0 [no anxiety] - 100 [very severe])

Are you currently suffering from depression? Y/N.
.. If yes, how severe would you rate it? (0 [no depression] - 100 [very severe])

GI Symptoms
Do you currently suffer from abdominal pain? Y/N.
.. If Y, how severe is it? (0 [no pain] - 100 [very severe])
.. How many days have you had pain in the past 10 days?

How about abdominal distension? Got any?
.. If yes: how severe is it? (0 [no distension] - 100 [very severe])

Overall
How satisfied are you with your bowel habits, from 0% (very happy) to 100% (very unhappy)?

How much are your GI symptoms affecting or interfering with your life in general?
0% (not at all) -- not much -- quite a lot -- completely (100%)

Each of those questions came with a horizontal line that you can put an X on in the original questionnaire, allowing the researchers to score them, weight them, and then come up with a composite "IBS Severity Score." That may be a bit much for you. I also took the opportunity to add in a few extra quantitative questions on top of that to try to get at some additional issues that are bothersome for me - frequent burping, for instance. In those cases I'm trying to estimate total time or number of incidences - whatever's easiest and allows me to make some comparisons.

Also I decided to forgo the usual food chronicling websites because I've spent way too much time on them in the past (adding 10 different spices in minute quantities to the FitDay or FitBit website is liable to drive me slowly insane), so I'm just taking pictures of the food I eat and describing it in freeform text.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:06 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In terms of the blood tests for gluten - you have to have been eating it regularly for the tests to be useful so a cookie the day beforehand won't be enough. See if you can get the blood work moved up? Also, if you're sensitive to gluten you'll want to replace porous stuff in your kitchen. My son has celiac and his antibodies and symptoms didn't entirely improve until I replaced all our cutting boards and plastic leftover containers.

Celiac disease can lead to other food intolerances because of leaky gut - lots of good articles here. So keeping a food log and being particularly aware of soy, dairy and fructose is a good plan. Good luck on figuring it out and feeling better soon.
posted by leslies at 6:20 AM on August 14, 2011


No, a cookie beforehand won't work. You need to eat a lot of gluten in the weeks leading up to the test, or else your chance for a false negative skyrockets.

You can also just stop eating gluten, if you know it bothers you. Nothing says you're obligated to have a blood test to eat a certain way.
posted by sugarfish at 8:48 AM on August 14, 2011


Thanks everyone! Of those of you who use apps or websites to monitor your intake and symptoms, specifically which ones have you found to be the most helpful and thorough? The "My Allergy Detective" (suggested by Sugarfish) seems like a good possibility, although I wish it were a bit more thorough, with the option to track things like sleep, bowel movements, etc. Deludingmyself, do you have a link or document I might be able to take a look? I'm struggling to visualize the questionnaire you described.
Many thanks.
posted by purplefiber at 10:32 AM on August 15, 2011


Also log any medications or supplements you are taking, especially temporary things like Immodium.
posted by serena15221 at 8:57 PM on August 15, 2011


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