“Please read my diary, look through my things and figure me out.”
― Kurt Cobain
Have you been keeping a food and mood diary during the course of your elimination phase?
If your answer was ‘no’ – this post is for you!
A little background
There are several factors which influence the make-up of your gut microbiota:-
- lifestyle choices
- antibiotic usage
What we can control is what we eat and how we choose to live moving forward – which affects our physiology, too.
We all know the basics but, needless to say – increasing your fresh vegetable intake, choosing pasture raised animal protein, reducing processed food and sugar, swapping out soda for water, moving and getting some sun daily, and ensuring you’re getting quality sleep are all key. Adding more good nutrients and less lifestyle choices that don’t serve you are also important.
You already know that the protocol is a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system.
But, it’s more than that. It also helps break down other areas of your life into manageable chunks so that you can effect change that improves your health. And this includes gut health. Things like improving sleep, relaxing and managing stress, moving, getting sunshine, improving your mood, and more…
Keeping a food and mood diary is the best way to observe improvements, understand patterns and identify foods (and behaviors) that are not serving you. In addition to tracking everything you eat, also tracking things like sleep (quality and quantity), exercise, mood and stress levels, time outside, self care, and your bathroom habits, too.
Sure. In the beginning, like many new things, it can be a drag. But over time it will become almost second nature.
And, it is surprisingly helpful.
Want to know why you should keep a food and mood diary?
It will show you exactly what goes into your mouth each day. You might think that you know exactly what you eat everyday. If so, I’m pretty confident you don’t. Writing down what you eat guarantees you know exactly what you’re eating. Every little bit.
Likewise, over time, tracking lifestyle activities will give you a very good idea of what you have under control and what needs work.
Your diary will provide insight as to what you need to eat and what lifestyle factors you may need to pay attention to. Even if you think you’re getting enough vegetables, you may find you’re not. Conversely, you may find your stress levels are higher than you realised, and you now need to address this.
Your diary will help you plan your meals. We all know we should be eating a variety of foods. Particularly vegetables. And, most of us are guilty of sticking to the tried and true. Keeping a food and mood diary allows you to see just how ‘stuck in a rut’ you might be. At first, you will use your diary to keep track of the meals that you eat; a reactive process. But over time, you may find you use your journal to plan out meals in order to create a more balanced diet.
A good example of how this works is an effort to eat liver twice a week. You can quickly tell how on target you are with that goal.
Your food and mood diary will keep you honest. Strange but true. And, even better, over time, your diary will actually make you want to make healthier choices. Every time you write down a food or activity you know is unhealthy, you’ll want to avoid doing it in the future.
Tracking allows you to monitor what’s working and what’s not. Over time, if you have a reaction to something, it is much easier to pin it down to the source when you can see what has occurred on any given day. And, then you can effect change to prevent it happening again. This is especially true when reintroducing foods. It’s also how I worked out – very quickly that carob is not my friend.
If you haven’t already started a food and mood diary, is it something you would consider now?
A version of this post first appeared at joannafrankham.com