How to keep an allergy food diary

Do you often feel unwell after eating and want to find out why? Your symptoms could be anything from tummy pain, bloating or a headache. With so many different foods on your plate, pinpointing the cause can be tricky.

Keeping a food and symptom diary is a great tool to help you identify allergies and intolerances to certain foods. It can also help you to understand what makes an existing condition worse, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or migraines.

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Why should I use a food and symptom diary?

Put simply, a food and symptom diary records everything that you eat or drink, and any symptoms you have. It’s the most accurate way to see which foods are causing your symptoms.

We’ve created an easy-to-use food and symptom diary to help you keep track. Simply download, print and fill out your diary each day for at least two weeks. Give as much detail as possible. For example, note down if 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.

Take your food and symptom diary to any appointments you have with a GP or dietitian. This will give them a great insight into what you eat and how certain foods affect you. Download a PDF of the food and symptoms diary (PDF, 1MB).

Top tips for keeping a food and symptom diary

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

  • Stick with it. Try to fill out your food and symptom diary every day for at least two weeks, including two weekends.
  • Include your fluids. Don’t forget to note down all fluids you drink. This includes caffeinated drinks (and any sugars added), juices and alcohol.
  • Go into detail. Give as much detail as possible, including what you ate and how it was prepared. For example, instead of writing a ‘salad sandwich’, write ‘two slices of white bread, mayonnaise, cheese and tomato’. The same applies to the symptoms you have. Did you have them immediately after eating? How severe were they? How long did they last?
  • Be honest. Even if you know your meal wasn’t the healthiest choice, write it down. It’s important for a 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 food packaging. It might sometimes be helpful to keep food packaging. This can help a dietitian see the 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 you did that day or medicines you took. You might also want to note down any feelings or emotions you had following a meal.

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

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Sources Sources

  • Food allergy and food intolerance. Patient – Professional Reference., last edited 29 July 2021
  • Food and symptoms diary. Allergy UK., published 11 November 2021
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: How should I assess a person with suspected irritable bowel syndrome? NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., last revised June 2021

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Luckily, allergists have specialized training that makes them the experts in testing for and diagnosing food allergies!

Get relief.

Find an allergist to help you diagnose your food allergies.

Your First Appointment

Your first step toward relief is to schedule an appointment with an allergist to receive a proper diagnosis. Your allergist will evaluate several things before making an allergy diagnosis, and it’s nice to know what to expect.

Your allergist will begin by taking a detailed medical history. They will ask detailed questions about your history of allergy symptoms, your diet, your family’s medical history, and your home and living area. Some questions your allergist may ask include:

  • The symptoms you have after eating the food.
  • How long after eating the food these symptoms occurred.
  • How much of the food you had.
  • How often the reaction has occurred.
  • Whether it occurs with other foods.
  • Whether it occurs every time you eat the food.
  • What type of medical treatment, if any, you received after having symptoms.

These questions help your allergist find out what is causing your allergy or making your symptoms worse. For example, allergy to pollen in the air, such as ragweed pollen, can be the cause of the swelling or itching in your mouth and throat if you eat certain foods like melons.

Your allergist may recommend allergy tests, such as a skin test or blood test to determine if you have a food allergy. A sensitivity to a food can be indicated in a skin prick test or a blood test, but does not always show a true allergy unless there has been a previous reaction to the food. These tests may offer clues about the causes of symptoms, but they cannot determine whether someone has a food allergy with absolute certainty. If necessary, an oral food challenge may be used to positively confirm the food that is causing the problem.

When a food allergy is suspected, it’s critically important to consult an allergist, who can decide which food allergy tests to perform, determine if food allergy exists, and counsel you on food allergy management once the diagnosis has been made.

Elimination Diet

Your allergist may narrow the search for foods causing allergies by placing you on a special diet. You may be asked to keep a daily food diary. The diary lists all food you eat and medication you take, along with your symptoms for the day.

If only one or two foods seem to cause allergies, you may try avoiding them. In this diet, you do not eat the suspect food at all for one to two weeks. If the allergic symptoms decrease during that period and flare up when you eat the food again, it is very likely the food causing your allergy.

However, which food you should avoid (and for how long) and when you should eat the food again (if ever) should be decided together with your allergist. You should never try to eat even a small quantity of any food your allergist has determined may cause a risk of anaphylaxis.

Your allergist may want to confirm these diet tests with a challenge test. Food allergy testing is a very important step in diagnosing food allergies.

Food Allergy Testing

If done correctly and interpreted by a board-certified allergist, skin tests or blood tests are reliable and can rule food allergy in or out.

Your allergist will interpret the test results and use them to aid in a diagnosis. While both kinds of testing can signal a food allergy, neither is conclusive. A positive test result to a specific food does not always indicate that a patient will react to that food when it’s eaten. A negative test is more helpful to rule out a food allergy. Neither test can predict how severely a patient will react if they eat a specific food. Some people test “allergic” to a food (by skin or blood testing) and yet have no symptoms when they eat that food.

Skin Testing

Skin prick tests are conducted in a doctor’s office and provide results within 15-30 minutes. A nurse or the allergist administers these tests on the patient’s arm or back by pricking the skin with a small, sterile probe that contains a tiny amount of the food allergen. The tests, which are not painful but can be uncomfortable (mostly itchy), are considered positive if a wheal (resembling a mosquito bite bump) develops at the site.

The size of a wheal does not necessarily predict how severe your reaction might be if you eat that food.

Blood Testing

The level of IgE antibodies found for a specific food does not necessarily predict how severe your reaction will be if you eat that food.

Oral Food Challenge

To confirm your test results, your allergist may recommend an oral food challenge, which is the gold standard for food allergy diagnosis. However, the procedure can be costly, time-consuming, and in some cases is potentially dangerous, so it is not routinely performed.

During an oral food challenge, the patient is fed gradually increasing amounts of the suspected allergy-causing food over a period of time under strict supervision by an allergist. Emergency medication and emergency equipment must be on hand during this procedure.

Oral food challenges may also be performed to determine if a patient has outgrown a food allergy.

Food Allergy Diagnosis

Diagnosing food allergies can be complicated. Symptoms of food allergy can vary from person to person, and a single individual may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Food allergic reactions can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and/or cardiovascular system, and people may develop food allergies at different ages.

Your allergist will look at both your test results and your medical history to make a food allergy diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with food allergies, your allergist will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it.

You’ll need to be careful to avoid eating foods you are allergic to. Ask your allergist what safety precautions you need to take.

If you have been told that your breastfed infant has food allergies, you may be wondering what to do next. Will you be able to continue to breastfeed? You may be surprised to learn that in most cases, the answer is yes.

Even a baby who has never been formula fed, and has never had any food besides breast milk may show signs of food allergy including: diarrhea, bloody stools, vomiting, colic, eczema, constipation and poor growth. Babies can develop allergies to foods that you are eating while you are breastfeeding.

Proteins from the foods that you eat can appear in your milk within 3-6 hours after eating them. If you eliminate these foods from your diet, the proteins will disappear from your breast milk in 1-2 weeks and the baby’s symptoms should slowly improve. There are no recommendations to avoid any food while you are breastfeeding to prevent allergies. These restrictions are only recommended for breastfed babies who have developed symptoms.

Common foods that cause allergies

Any food could potentially cause an allergy. The following foods, though, are those that most commonly cause allergies.

  • Dairy (all forms of cow’s milk, including milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

The challenge is discovering which foods your baby is allergic to. Allergy testing in young infants is often not reliable. One way to determine which foods are a problem for your baby is to keep a food diary of the foods you eat along with a record of your baby’s symptoms. You may see a pattern develop of worsening symptoms whenever you eat certain foods.

Foods to avoid

Often it’s enough to just remove all dairy from your diet. You’ll need to carefully read all food labels to eliminate foods that might contain dairy.

Milk is considered a major food allergen under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2006. That means all food products containing milk as an ingredient must list the word “Milk” on the product label. If you are unsure about any product, confirm its ingredients with the manufacturer. You can also learn more about food labeling laws from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

Look for the following words on food labels and avoid any of these foods:

  • Artificial butter flavor
  • Butter, butterfat, butter oil
  • Buttermilk
  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Dry milk solids
  • Ghee
  • Half & half
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactulose
  • Milk
  • Nougat
  • Pudding
  • Recaldenet
  • Rennet casein
  • Sour cream
  • Sour milk solids
  • Whey
  • Yogurt

Other ingredients that may be clues to the presence of milk protein include:

  • Caramel candies
  • Chocolate
  • Flavorings
  • High protein flour
  • Lactic acid starter
  • Lactose
  • Lunch meat, hot dogs, sausages
  • Margarine
  • Non-dairy products

What you should eat

You can have a well-balanced diet even without eating any dairy. You can get plenty of protein from fish, beef, chicken, eggs, nuts and beans. You can use calcium-fortified soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, or fortified orange juice to supply you with 1,000 mg of calcium each day, or you can take a calcium supplement.

You will also want to continue taking a multivitamin. Be sure to read the labels on your vitamins and any medications that you are taking. They may also contain hidden allergens.

It can take a month or more for your baby’s symptoms to improve. If your baby shows no signs of improvement or his symptoms get worse after a month of the dairy-free diet, you may need to eliminate other foods such as wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts or nuts.

Sometimes babies are allergic to more than one food. You may need to stay on this restricted diet the entire time you are breastfeeding, or until your infant is 1 year old. Many babies outgrow their food allergies by their first birthday.

Breast milk provides important health benefits for your baby including protection from infections and higher IQ scores, and a reduction in chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and many babies enjoy breastfeeding into the second year of life. There is no reason to wean your baby from the breast if your baby develops signs of food allergies. If you change your diet, you and your baby should be able to enjoy breastfeeding until you are both ready to wean.

How to keep an allergy food diary

Yes, food journals are effective. There are so many kinds of food journals, including 7 day food journal are easy to use for tracking our meal history. There are some researchers found that food journals help us pursue the losing weight goal and make it persistent. Filling a food journal for almost seven days, or six days to be precise, can help people to lose weight more. The result can even reach as many as twice than those who only keep the journal for once in a week or even less. A food journal is also beneficial to know the eating habits and patterns. Tracking the meal intake with a food diary is also helpful to identify foods, which one should be added or reduced.

What should I write in my weight loss journal?

To track our daily meal, we can start the list with some questions. Here are things that should be put in the food journal:
1. What are we eating?
Write down the specific kinds of foods, including the garnish we eat, the dipping sauce, and the process, whether it is boiled, steamed, or fried.
2. When are we eating?
Some experts recommend the dinner, which is done in the evening, should be less than 500 calories. Recording the time of eating can also help us to find our eating pattern and tendency, for instance late-night snacking.
3. How much are you eating?
The amount of food also determines the daily intake. It can affect the amount of calorie that we consume. The easy way to measure the foods and drinks is with kitchen utensils as benchmarks, such as tablespoons, bowls, glass. If we want to be precise, we can use a kitchen scale. The common unit to measure foods comes in gram.

This healthy elimination diet plan helps identify food intolerances and sensitivities to alleviate digestive issues or other common symptoms.

People may start an elimination diet for several reasons, with one of the main reasons being to try and pinpoint food intolerances and sensitivities that cause digestive issues like gas, bloating or stomach pain. A food intolerance is where your body processes a certain food (or foods) in a different way than others, which can cause that gastrointestinal discomfort or other symptoms. Food intolerances are different from a food allergy, which involves an immune response that can be very dangerous. If you suspect a true food allergy, we encourage you to discuss this with your medical provider or allergist.

In this elimination diet plan, we map out a week of meals and snacks that include delicious flavors and easy recipes. What didn't we include? The top 8 foods most commonly associated with food intolerances, sensitivities and food allergies—milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. We set this plan at 1,500 calories a day but included modifications to make it 1,200 calories or 2,000 calories, depending on your needs.

Exactly What Is an Elimination Diet?

A food elimination diet is a systematic approach used to identify food sensitivities. Food elimination diets can take on a number of different forms. In this plan, we excluded foods that contain the 8 most common allergens, but if you strongly suspect that, for example, dairy is the culprit and choose to only replace dairy items with nondairy alternatives, you can modify this plan as needed.

There's also something called the low-FODMAP diet, which is most often used to help people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. The low-FODMAP diet limits certain types of carbohydrates that can cause gastrointestinal distress in those with IBS.

How to Do an Elimination Diet

If you're wondering how to start an elimination diet, we would first recommend that you meet with a registered dietitian who can help safely guide you through the process. They will discuss your current diet and symptoms and help you think about what your possible food triggers may be. Then, they will likely advise you to completely avoid those trigger foods for at least two weeks, which is where this meal plan can come in handy. You can use this plan as a guide and template for what to eat (or not to eat) and adjust it according to your individual needs.

After the designated elimination phase, the next phase is reintroduction, where you introduce one possible food trigger back into your diet at a time. You should space out these reintroductions by at least three days, so it's easier to determine what trigger foods cause what symptoms. It can be very helpful to keep a food symptoms diary during this time. This means you'll keep track of what you eat as well as what symptoms you're having and when.

Elimination Diet Foods List

The foods to avoid on an elimination diet are very individualized. Some people may want to start by avoiding lactose, the carbohydrate found in some dairy products, as it's the most common food intolerance. Other people suspect gluten, the protein in wheat, may cause their symptoms. In this plan, we excluded the top 8 foods most commonly associated with food intolerances, sensitivities and allergens. See the full list of what to avoid with each allergen here.

Milk, including dairy products like yogurt, kefir, butter, cheese, cottage cheese, creamer, half-and-half, sour cream, ice cream, whey or dairy-based powders, any packaged products made with dairy and more.

Eggs, including foods made with eggs like some mayonnaise brands, baked goods, egg-based powders and more.

Tree nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, pralines, pine nuts, nut butters, nut milks, nut extracts or pastes and more.

Peanuts, including peanut butter, peanut oil, peanut flour and more.

Wheat, including wheat-based bread, cereal, pasta, breadcrumbs, crackers, flours and more, bulgur, farro, matzoh meal, seitan, wheatgrass, wheat germ oil and more.

Soy, including soy sauce and tamari, edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso, soymilk, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy oil and more.

Fish, including salmon, tuna (fresh or canned), tilapia, bass, anchovies, sardines, haddock, pollock, swordfish, trout and more.

Shellfish, including crabs, crawfish, lobster, shrimp, prawns, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops and more.

What You Can Eat

While you may end up cutting out quite a lot of foods during an elimination diet, there are still so many delicious items you do get to eat! Here are just some of the delicious foods you'll find in this meal plan

Fruits & veggies and plenty of them!

Healthy proteins like beans, chicken and steak.

Seeds to snack on in place of nuts, like pumpkin seeds and sunflower butter.

Wheat-free grains, like quinoa, oatmeal and corn tortillas.

And plenty of herbs and spices to keep your meals flavorful and exciting.

How to keep an allergy food diary

The term collection might seem a bit confusing if you are a bujo newbie but it is essentially a group of related data from a particular topic. So it is just a fancy term for bullet journal topics.

I have loads of bullet journal list ideas below plus more detailed explanations about bujo collections, so be sure to keep reading! There is also a handy FREE Bujo collections checklist printable at the end of the post.

But before we start this post let’s go over again some of the important bullet journal setup ideas:

Just simply click the links above if you need help with any of the Bujo terms and how-to’s, otherwise, let’s get started with all the amazing bujo collection ideas I have for you.

Table of Contents

What is a Bullet Journal Collection? (aka bujo page)

If you are new to bullet journaling you might not know exactly what a bullet journal collection is.

Simply put a collection is just a bunch of related ideas grouped together, think of them as like bullet journal inserts, and they can be in any form!

It could be a list of things you plan to do, places to visit, things to buy, stuff to try, your future log… The list goes on indefinitely.

It could be literally anything!

In regards to the bullet journal method ( the original bullet journal concept ), some collections are inherited to the system, such as your daily and month logs, and most people use them.

Every log and entry in your bullet journal is a collection – because they are groups of related things.

How to keep an allergy food diary

However, we have also the Custom Bullet Journal Collections. These are collections that people make based on their own personal interests and needs.

It is pretty much anything else other than your bullet journal calendar pages.

For instance, a person may add bullet journal collections such as cleaning tasks, books to read, and bucket-list destinations.

Another person may have collections such as date night ideas, movies to watch collections and home improvement spreads.

Your awesome bullet journal collection spreads will be a reflection of what you need or want to track.

Bullet Journal Collection Ideas

As I mentioned above, collections in bullet journals can be anything! However, I have created a HUGE list of bullet journal pages and habit tracker ideas that will help you create your own custom collections.

I have separated them into different categories so you can browse through your personal interests.

Below are all the ideas for journals. Have fun finding new Bujo collections to try!

Productivity bullet journal ideas

Need cool bullet journal ideas for work or maybe you’re a student? Why not try these productivity spreads and pages below: