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The Food and Symptom Diary

The Food and Symptom Diary

A food and symptom diary is a priceless tool.  I study them for patterns to look for the physical and behavioral symptoms I associate with particular foods.  If you or your child experience symptoms you suspect are from foods, a food diary can be a useful reference to track possible food sensitivities.

Try noting how you or your child feel or behave before, during, and after meals and beverages.  Unfortunately, it is sometimes not as simple as what you ate but how much of it or in combination with what other foods. For example, you may find that you get headaches every time you eat pizza, or that you are fine with pizza until you add mushrooms on top, although mushrooms seem to be fine on a salad.  Sometimes it is the combination of things that puts you over your threshold for tolerance of a specific compound. Keeping track of quantity and any additional details helps.

It really is best to take it beyond food if you can. Supplement changes should obviously be monitored closely. Some supplements you might expect to see temporary symptoms from as part of a detox process. But sometimes it may not be detox but an undesirable reaction.  Your doctor will definitely want to know about these reactions.

Exposures to things like perfumes, pets and even temperature changes can have similar affects to foods, and sometimes in combination with chemicals in food you have crossed your threshold for tolerance. One mom reported that her child’s behavioral issues at school were finally traced to the perfume of his classroom aide. I recently heard from a mom that her children seemed to be reacting to grandma with histamine type symptoms. They probably are not reacting to grandma herself, but perhaps a product she uses.

The more detail you record, the more information can be discerned.  Keep track of symptoms that occur 24/7 for best results.

There are actually apps for this kind of thing.  Isn’t that cool?  Here is one I found online called mySymptoms. You can generate a report from this and show it to your doctor or health care professional.

Here are some examples of symptoms that you might list:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Headache
  • Shakiness
  • Pins and needles
  • Dyspraxia
  • Spaciness
  • Brain fog
  • Tantruming
  • Toe walking
  • Sideways glancing
  • Stimming
  • Red cheeks or ears
  • Hiccups
  • Heartburn
  • Reflux
  • Nausea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Salt cravings
  • Excessive hunger
  • Food cravings
  • Lack of appetite
  • OCD or compulsive behaviors
  • Perfectionism
  • High libido
  • Water retention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Eczema
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Nasal allergies
  • Asthma
  • Agitation
  • Energized
  • Hyperactive
  • Focused
  • Rash
  • Tummy aches
  • Joint pain
  • Other aches and pains
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Headbanging
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Eye pain or eye poking
  • Posturing
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sandy stools
  • Urinary pain or urgency
  • Night terrors
  • Restless legs
  • Bed wetting
  • Eye twitching
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Ringing in ears
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Weepy
  • Defiance
  • Rage
  • Anxiety
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Tachycardia
  • Feeling cold or hot
  • Humorous
  • Calm
  • Happy
  • Interested
  • Connected
  • Communicative

or any other symptoms you observe, good or bad.

If you are going to do this the old fashioned way as opposed to the app above, here is one format that you might use:

Keep in mind that reactions can occur up to several days later, so don’t necessarily expect to associate the symptoms you are experiencing with the most recent meal or exposure.  You do, however, want to keep track of when the reactions occur with respect to meals in order to look for patterns.

I hope this helps you to get to the bottom of any symptoms you or your children are experiencing.  These tools sound incredibly simple but when used properly they can have spectacular results!



This article was featured at Thank Your Body and Girl Meets Nourishment.


  1. thank you for sharing at the hop my xo

  2. Heather says:

    This is a really great idea! I cut most dairy out of my life (i am a huge cheese lover) in January of this year. I can’t even describe all the ways my body feels so much better. It is something I wish I had thought of sooner, but didn’t really relate my issues to food. Now I definitely can tell when I am eating something I shouldn’t be! Thanks for sharing at what i am eating 🙂

  3. This post is great! A food and symptom journal brought to light most of our problems! It tells you so much! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂

    Hope you enjoyed the last two week’s of giveaways!

    Cindy from

  4. Nancy W says:

    Thank you so much for linking up to The Home Acre Hop. I’ve been thinking I may have some sort of food allergy and was wondering where to start! Now I have a good idea!

  5. Becca says:

    Very organized! Crazy how many chemicals are out there in foods and in so much of what we use on a daily basis. I’m sure they affect us more than we know! Thanks for sharing this at my Healthy Tuesday hop. 🙂

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Thanks Becca! There are more chemicals than you ever want to know, and they really do affect us. Some of us more than others. Thank you for hosting!

  6. Amy says:

    I’ve been keeping a food and symptom log for a few months now because of GI symptoms I’ve been experiencing. It’s been a great tool! I think I was downplaying how often I was having GI symptoms by just trying to recall them after the fact. By logging everything as it happens I can tell which foods always give me a reaction (spicy chicken sandwiches, for instance) and I can also tell that I’m having symptoms more often than I had thought.

    I have mine set up in a spreadsheet with columns for Date, Meal, Symptoms and Activities. So I every thing I eat. Every GI symptom and most symptoms like joint pain, allergy attacks or fatigue. I also log my exercise for the day.

  7. Dawn, THANK YOU for sharing this tool! We used something very much like it and also are doing one now for my daughter’s HAs. I am so glad you are making these very helpful posts available by linking-up at Deep Roots!
    Blessings, friend 🙂

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Jacqueline, you are the most gracious hostess. It is my pleasure! Thank you so much for your support!

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  10. Becky says:

    Great way to find out if how you feel is food based. Thanks for sharing it on Tuesday Greens!

  11. Crystal & Co says:

    Love this concept and it totally makes sense. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing it with busy families everywhere!

    I just featured it over on my How to Meal Plan Facebook Community. I know it is not “about” meal planning, but really people should be aware of what foods that are and are not good fits for their bodies and families as they prepare their meals each week.

  12. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing it on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday (P.S. I think you may have forgotten to add a link back to the party? Here’s the link

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Hi Danielle! I never forget. 🙂 It just is not very efficient to update the page one by one, so I prefer to do it once a day!

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