Keeping a log of your symptoms in an IBS tracker may help you to find patterns in your symptoms. It can also help identify triggers and start to move out of the circle of confusion where you don’t know what’s making things worse.
What is an IBS tracker?
When we measure something it normally starts to improve, even if we don’t mean to make any changes.
When you work with me in the 3 month Gut Reset I’ll ask you to keep a log of what you eat for 5 days.
I review this in advance of the initial session so I get an idea of what you eat on a normal day.
A food diary logs what you eat, day by day, and also tracks how you feel each day too. It’s a useful tool for nutritional therapists to look at your dietary patterns.
I work with people who have IBS, like you, to track how you are meeting your health goals and get a better insight into your normal diet and routines.
Four Benefits Of Keeping A Diet Diary
1. Detecting food intolerance
If you have an intolerance to a food group or certain products the reactions might not happen for several hours, or even days later. This can make it tricky to identify patterns.
Food diaries can help track symptoms over a few days or weeks. You might forget that you ate something one evening, that gives you a reaction the following day.
2. Understanding lifestyle factors in IBS
As an IBS nutritionist I like to ask clients to track their mood, activity levels and sleep quality as part of my IBS Diet & Symptom Tracker.
This is because sometimes the symptom you are tracking (e.g. bloating, or gas production) might also be affected by your anxiety levels, fatigue, or exercise.
3. Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, keeping a food diary might help. When we write down what we eat we may find unhealthy habits that are stopping you from losing weight.
Often people forget about the extra beers, or snacks that could potentially be keeping them from losing weight.
Writing down your food intake will help you identify where food choices aren’t supporting your health goals.
4. Balanced Diet
Sometimes we think we’re eating a healthy balanced diet, but when it’s written down it might be surprising.
I help people identify the right balance of carbs, protein and fats in their IBS diet. We also look at how to meet other targets like fibre, getting 7 a day, or ensuring sufficient vitamins and minerals.
Where you are eating a restricted diet with a long list of eliminated foods it might be helpful to take a supplement to ensure you’re getting the right levels of nutrition.
Start your IBS investigations
Keeping an IBS diet & symptom tracker for a short time may not enable any immediate change.
It’s about taking the first step by observing what is currently happening. The next step is committing to change something.
When you document what you do in an IBS tracker, we can discover, understand and start to analyse.
If you’re trying to address your IBS symptoms, or just attempting to eat healthier, writing down what you eat for a short period may help you make positive changes.
Drawbacks to keeping an IBS tracker
Some people worry about getting too caught up in the data, and this can happen.
In my experience of working with clients using smart watches to track sleep and step counts, and myFitness Pal to record energy or track protein can become a bad habit. We have so much technology nowadays that we can rely on the data rather than how we actually feel in our bodies.
Here are some reasons NOT to use a diet diary.
Firstly, if you have a history of disordered eating, it might not be a good idea to start recording everything you eat.
For some people this can increase anxiety, or fear of food, as well as hyper vigilance of health symptoms.
Secondly, long term recording of your diet in an IBS tracker might not be suitable.
It may help in the short term to share your current position with a nutritionist or doctor, but always be aware if activities like this could trigger unhelpful thoughts or behaviours.
Download my IBS tracker
Get the tracker I use with my Gut Reset clients
What to track in an IBS diary
Key metrics I look at in my IBS tracker include
- Timing of your meals
- What you’ve eaten each day
- How often you’re snacking and on what
- How much you’re drinking
- Bowel movements – how many, what type etc
- Symptoms – your choice of symptoms tracked
- Stress levels
- Exposure to daylight
- Sleep amount & quality
- Menstrual cycle
If you want to see the template I use with my Gut Reset clients you can download it and try it for yourself here.
Using your IBS tracker results
I can help you find a diet that works for you, your lifestyle and health goals. Contact me to get started.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.
I can help you to:
- understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
- eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
- develop better digestion and more energy
Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme
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