Feeling unwell after eating? Monitor your symptoms with our easy food diary

Maya Aboukhater
Senior Specialist Dietitian at Cromwell Hospital
20 March 2018

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This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

Do you often feel unwell after mealtimes, and want to find out why? Your symptoms could be anything from tummy pain, to a migraine or eczema. But with so many different ingredients on your plate, pinpointing the cause can be tricky. Could it be an intolerance to dairy or gluten? Is it irritable bowel syndrome? Or maybe even an allergy?

Before you take matters into your own hands and start eliminating complete food groups from your diet, it’s best to speak to your doctor or dietitian. If you’re experiencing symptoms, and suspect it might be something in your diet, keeping a food diary is a great tool to help you identify the cause.

Why should I use a food diary?

Put simply, a food diary records everything that you put in your mouth. So it’s the perfect way of accurately capturing what you’re eating, and how you feel from day to day. We’ve created this easy-to-use food diary to help you monitorany symptoms you might be having.

Simply print it out and fill out your diary each day for a few weeks, in as much detail as possible. For example, it may be useful to mention that you’re having trouble digesting a particular type of food. Or if you have bloating, wind, diarrhoea, vomiting, or stomach pain after eating certain foods. Then bring your food diary to your next appointment with your doctor or dietitian, who can go through what you recorded in detail.

Tips for keeping a food diary

To help you get the most out of your food diary, follow these simple steps:

  • Stick to it. Try to fill out your food diary for at least two weeks, including two weekends.
  • Include your fluids. Don’t forget to note down all fluids. This includes caffeinated drinks (and any sugars added), juices and alcohol.
  • Go into detail. Give details of how the food was prepared. For example, instead of writing a ‘salad sandwich’, write ‘2 slices of white bread, mayonnaise, cheese and tomato’. Include as much detail as possible, and write down where and when you have any symptoms.
  • Be honest. Even if you know your meal wasn’t the healthiest choice, write it down. It’s important for your doctor or dietitian to get a complete picture of your diet.
  • Take it with you. Keep your food diary with you so you can make note of everything you eat throughout the day. If you try to fill everything out at once, you might forget some vital ingredients.
  • Keep extra notes. Use the ‘other notes’ section to keep a record of anything else you may want to speak to your dietitian or doctor about. For example, include any exercise and medications taken, and any feelings or emotions triggered by a meal.

Please click here to download a PDF of the food and symptoms diary (1 MB).
A food and symptoms diary from Bupa UK

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Maya Aboukhater
Maya Aboukhater
Senior Specialist Dietitian at Cromwell Hospital

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