It’s not easy living with a food intolerance. Going out to dinner, parties, events, etc. can become really challenging as you become “that person” who avoids every food. Others don’t quite understand that you are taking care of yourself, and you might be seen as a picky eater. It can be even worse when you’re not sure which foods you are intolerant to, because, at that point, you find yourself avoiding anything you haven’t cooked yourself or anything that seems to have too many ingredients.
While the social effects of food intolerances can be pretty challenging, there is also a myriad of symptoms to keep in mind that can make any day less enjoyable. Symptoms like fatigue, migraines, bloating, acne breakouts, skin rashes, and many others can certainly hinder your everyday routine.
It’s important to learn what your intolerances are. Harvard Medical School suggests, in an article about food intolerances, that you keep a food diary. Write down the foods you are eating, and also write down any time you face an intolerance symptom. While this will not directly diagnose your intolerances, it can give you a much closer range of foods that you can focus on.
One of the most important things to note is the delay between the consumption of a food and the presence of the symptoms. So, if you consume bread, for example, and a few hours later you experience a migraine, this does not mean the bread is the cause. You could be experiencing a symptom linked to a food you ate the day before.
So, if the reactions are delayed, how can journaling help?
As mentioned, this isn’t a direct diagnosis method. However, it can help you find patterns and close in on the types of foods that might be affecting you. Using the bread example again, if you notice in your journal that your symptoms show up regularly around the days you eat bread, then you can pay close attention to your bread, yeast, wheat, and gluten consumption. At that point, you might want to consider an elimination diet or food intolerance test to further refine your search.
Living with food intolerances can definitely be difficult, but taking care of yourself is always always a top priority. So, the more you learn about how food affects your body, the better you will be able to handle these situations and avoid negative feelings in regards to your intolerances.