If you have been experiencing frequent bouts of allergic reactions, you might have to consider seeing an allergist. Allergists often ask their patients to maintain a food diary to assess what foods cause reactions- it helps them to diagnose your allergy, narrow down the triggers, and to advise you accordingly, and helps you to be an active part of your health.
Choose a planner or a journal that suits you- for example, an app on the phone if you have a hectic lifestyle or a thick binder if you prefer to sit and write, and be consistent with your entries in the dairy. If you are among those who meal prep, you can write ahead by all means.
Make sure you don’t miss any detail- time, brand, quantity, cooking/ frying oils, and ingredients (not calories), and additional toppings, garnishes, seasonings, snacks, drinks, condiments etc. In case of packaged foods, cut out the part of the package that contains ingredient information and stick it on to the diary or write it down yourself.
Even if it sounds obsessive or overwhelming, you must not stop tracking the details after every meal– these details help to break down symptoms. If keeping details for a baby/ toddler, mark the foods that are new/ introduced for the first time in some way.
You also need to make a note of the allergic reactions you experience – add the timestamp, the symptoms (rash, swelling, wheezing, dizziness, tummy trouble etc) and duration of the reaction. This helps your allergist to identify patterns and understand symptoms, even in case of delayed reactions. There are many benefits of keeping a food diary for food allergies. Here are a few of them
- The diary ensures you always have a record of what you consume, and eliminates the need to memorize all of it
- It makes it easy for you to respond to any diet- related query your allergist has
- Helps you be better prepared for your appointment since you are completely in tune with what you eat and how your body reacts
- With regular entries and monitoring, your allergist as well as you can recognize the patterns of reactions
- Your allergist will be able to assess better about the tests needed to identify your food allergy
- Over time, you will be able to identify which foods trigger your allergic reactions. You can also track improvements in symptoms when you eliminate some foods from your diet
A food diary is often a useful tool when you need to find out exactly what food triggers an allergic reaction. Listing the entire food you consume chronologically ensures that you will have all the necessary information at the time of your appointment with an allergist. A food journal is a practical way to recognize your symptoms and to take necessary steps to control the same. Do remember that the food diary is not a substitute for medical testing- it is a guide for you and your doctor.