A food diary has the biggest potential of almost anything else to change your life. Food affects mood/energy, health/illness, appearance, and also everyday life in that we have to cook, store, shop for, and prepare it. Therefore, the more simple and healthy we can make food, the better our bodies and lifestyles improve. Few things in life do we do more than once a day, so it makes sense to spend extra time examining how food makes you look and feel.
There are two ways to do a food diary. The first is for those who like keeping detailed notes and who have a hard time recognizing patterns unless everything is laid out. For you, you would have to keep a detailed list for two weeks of everything you eat, alongside any changes to energy and appearance.
Here is what a one-day entry might look like:
Monday – turkey, water, hummus, crackers, salsa | stew (see recipe card), rice
Mood: great | Appearance: okay | Headache, but may be because of thunderstorm.
The broad method works great if you notice patterns easily and are mindful.
Monday – hummus with crackers | stew
After two weeks, you would begin to eliminate the categories that have the biggest potential for causing problems, but only eliminate one at a time. If you eliminate two, you won’t know what is causing what, and it may be too restrictive. Track appearance and energy accordingly. Also, when choosing which category to eliminate, you should choose it intelligently, based on what has the biggest potential based on your ethnicity or health concerns or based on which one causes people the most problems if you have no illness.
Here are common problems, and the things that may be linked to them. Remember not to assume anything. Prove everything. Note: Digestive issues will cause problems falling asleep because the body is working overtime and overheating. When your body is cool, it is easier to fall asleep.
headache – dairy, citrus, caffeine (even in dark chocolate), broths (naturally occurring MSG), thunderstorms, stress, menstruation, pork, nitrates in deli meat
digestive issues – too much fiber (artichoke, avocado), too little fiber, cruciferous vegetables, heavily flavored food, fried food, fermented foods (cheeses, red wine, sauerkraut), steaks
bloating – carbohydrates (bread, noodles), beer, dairy
cavities – acid, sugar
dull skin – breads, sugar, too much sodium, too little sun
Here are common categories that you may want to try to keep an eye on, lessen, or weed out (one at a time) for two weeks: high sugar, acid, fermented foods, soy, high fiber, alcohol/caffeine, dairy, MSG, high fat, bread, potato, onion/garlic, spicy food, red meat, pork, deli meat with nitrates, shellfish.
You may be surprised the foods or drinks causing the most problems, but it is the best day when you uncover problems. We are not perfect, but knowledge is power. We can choose the life we want.