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Food Diary tips / examples?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 07, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I've been keeping a food diary for 2 years, trying to resolve some pesky food reactions.

I do it in Excel, which is saved in my dropbox (which is automatically synced between home & work).

For each day, I record notes, what I ate, what supplements I took.

I have a column for various issues like headache, muscle cramps, etc.

I have a column for individual food ingredients like banana, butternut squash, and some columns are for groups like dairy.

Sometimes I color code the row if it's particularly bad.

Sometimes I just put an X in the column for the foot ingredient, but sometimes I record how much.

It's just a bunch of chaos I evolved on my own.

Questions:

Do you have any tips, suggestions or examples which might be helpful?

I want to continue doing it in excel, so I'm not looking for a cloud service solution - just a better way to represent all this data in Excel.

Robb Wolf made an excellent point on a previous podcast about keeping a food diary: he said you better record just about everything or it can be particularly misleading. For example, if you are trying to pinpoint migraine trigger foods, and you don't have a column for barometric pressure, you might not spot the patter if pressure changes precipitate headaches.

I must confess sometimes it's like trying to spot patterns in 'white noise'.

It also takes lots of knowledge to interpret the spreadsheet. For example, if you got headaches while eating chocolate, cheese, and oranges, it might not be immediately obvious that all of those foods are high in Tyramine.

My current hypothesis is Histamine foods. I wish I had recorded how old food was (not just what it was). For example, 4 day old slow cooked corned beef was merely recorded as corned beef.

Presently, my active columns go out to DD. My 'obsolete' food items (which I moved to the end of the spreadsheet) goes out to column IR

Thanks for any thoughts, Mike

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 07, 2012
at 07:18 PM

I agree its hard to figure out, but sounds like you have the patience and skills to test it out! hope you figure it out!!

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:57 PM

At one point, I suspected an excess or imbalance between sodium & potassium. That would be hard to conclude without an actual diary with amounts. Honestly, it's hard to imagine how people get to the bottom of more obscure reactions to obscure thinks like yellow die #7

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Because I have 2 years worth of data, with histamines in mind, I can think back to particularly bad reactions, and see what I was eating leading up to it, and it fits nicely with the histamine hypothesis. However, the problem is it also fits with other hypothesis as well. For a while, I thought it was tyramine (because I used to get migraine headaches). BTW, there is a huge overlap in tyramine foods and histamine foods. It all gets so complex, it gives me a headache!

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:30 PM

It is complex. I'm embarrassed that as a Systems Analyst (who prides himself on his analysis skills), it's taken me 2 years to nail this down. I do agree that an elimination of everything and then add back in one food at a time for 3 days, then moving on to the next is a very good approach. However, for a histamine problem, it doesn't work as well because it's about exceeding you body's ability to handle histamine. So, you might be 4 weeks into this approach and it's an avocado that puts you over the top: you might think you are sensitive to avocados.

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345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 07, 2012
at 04:47 PM

Just my opinion, but sounds very complex! Really really narrowing down issues can be harder than you think because they can hit you immediately to 3 days later. And if you've added in a variety of things between those days, you can easily get it wrong which was the food you were reacting to.

I'd consider doing the complete opposite, do an elimination diet and then start adding foods in and use your spreadsheet to track reactions as you add. Since a reaction can be immediate to up to 3 days by doing an elimination diet you remove pretty much everything and start with a clean slate (waiting 3 days to introduce any new foods so it is clear which is causing issues).

GAPS introduction is a good place to start if you really really want to figure it out.

I USE to be strongly reactive to histamines, I could never eat a food that was reheated even one day. I can now handle them. But I still never eat anything older than 3 days old as a rule, just not worth it.

By doing elimination you can really hone into foods and how you handle them (up until I did that I was constantly trying to figure out what I was reacting to, which seemed like everything, in the end it really did help make it easier/clearer to figure out.).

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Because I have 2 years worth of data, with histamines in mind, I can think back to particularly bad reactions, and see what I was eating leading up to it, and it fits nicely with the histamine hypothesis. However, the problem is it also fits with other hypothesis as well. For a while, I thought it was tyramine (because I used to get migraine headaches). BTW, there is a huge overlap in tyramine foods and histamine foods. It all gets so complex, it gives me a headache!

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:57 PM

At one point, I suspected an excess or imbalance between sodium & potassium. That would be hard to conclude without an actual diary with amounts. Honestly, it's hard to imagine how people get to the bottom of more obscure reactions to obscure thinks like yellow die #7

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 07, 2012
at 06:30 PM

It is complex. I'm embarrassed that as a Systems Analyst (who prides himself on his analysis skills), it's taken me 2 years to nail this down. I do agree that an elimination of everything and then add back in one food at a time for 3 days, then moving on to the next is a very good approach. However, for a histamine problem, it doesn't work as well because it's about exceeding you body's ability to handle histamine. So, you might be 4 weeks into this approach and it's an avocado that puts you over the top: you might think you are sensitive to avocados.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 07, 2012
at 07:18 PM

I agree its hard to figure out, but sounds like you have the patience and skills to test it out! hope you figure it out!!

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