How a Food Journal can Help Heartburn and Acid Reflux Sufferers
Food journals are very popular weight loss tools used by people who want to keep track of what they’ve been eating. It allows them to check if they’ve been true to their diet and gives them an idea about which areas of their daily or weekly food intake can be fixed.
The benefit of keeping a food journal isn’t limited to weight loss though. It can also become an invaluable tool for people who want to monitor their food intake in order to discover what triggers a particular condition that they’re afflicted with.
Sufferers of acid reflux and heartburn are some examples of people who can greatly benefit from keeping a food journal. Regularly updating their journal will allow them to better understand and avoid food that might complicate their conditions.
How do you keep a food journal?
A lot of people keep regular diaries or journals so that they can write about what’s happening in their lives. A food journal is the same. The owner just limits his notes to what food he has eaten for the day. Here are a couple of pointers that you might want to keep in mind if you’re thinking of keeping track of your diet.
Get yourself a journal
First things first, you need an actual journal to write on. Food journals have recently become popular so it is possible to find ones that are commercially made. The price for these will depend on the brand and the quality of the material used.
It isn’t necessary to buy a brand new journal though unless it’s a personal preference of yours. Any old notebook will serve. If you’ve got one lying around then pick it up and start using it. The size of the notebook is up to you but it’s normally better to keep a small journal because they’re easier to carry around.
If you’re a tech junkie then you can use your tablet, PC or even your mobile phone as your journal. These are devices that we carry all the time as well so it might actually be better for some people to use these. There are both free and paid apps available for you to download. You can even use the standard notepad of your device. As long as it can keep notes you can use it.
Once you have your journal you should start keeping notes on what you eat and what you drink. Don’t just limit your records to main meals. Include snacks and those occasional small bites as well. You never know which detail is important so it’s best that you keep track of them all.
Be very detailed
Write down how many slices of cake you ate, how many cups of side dish you had, the number of cups of coffee you drank and the number of pieces of chicken you finished. Be very detailed when it comes to recording your food intake. Don’t just write down the type of food but the portions as well. The same goes for drinks.
Note the time of the meal
Another thing you will want to take down is the exact time of the food consumption. Remember that you’re not keeping a food journal simply for losing weight. The time between a heartburn attack and a meal can provide useful information on what might have triggered it.
Note down any symptoms that arise
Whenever you feel the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn surfacing, note them down in detail. Write down the time as well.
Keep track of other things that may trigger your condition
Food isn’t always the cause of an attack so it’s also a good idea to keep track of things like exercise, rushed eating, strenuous activity on a full stomach and so on. This might seem to be too much detail already but you can never really be sure what the cause is for your condition since it can be different per sufferer.
So how does all this note taking help?
Accurate information is the key to prevention. If you know what’s triggering the acid reflux or heartburn then you can avoid it. But how do you know what triggers it if even doctors can’t immediately pinpoint the cause? You use the information in your journal.
You can share your notes with your doctor and between the two of you, it should be easy to trace the attacks to their triggers.
Look at the time – The biggest clue you can get is the time between the attack and the previous activities. How many minutes or hours have elapsed between your heartburn and a meal? Did you exercise before you started feeling the symptoms? Was there anything different in your routine that might have caused the heartburn?
Keep a list of the most common triggers – Things like alcohol, butter, caffeine, garlic, nuts, high-fat foods, cocoa and citrus fruits are common triggers for heartburn. Keep a complete list of all of these in your journal and cross check it with the food you ate prior to an attack. This will help you tremendously in narrowing down your search for your particular trigger.
Always keep your doctor informed – Keeping a journal is a great way for you to be able to do something about your condition yourself. But don’t forget that the doctor should always approve any proper and long-term remedy. You’ll always be able to come up with a better solution if you team up with your doctor.
Knowing how to keep a journal and recognizing the value of note taking are only the first steps towards the development of a solution. What needs to be done next is to change your diet and lifestyle in order to avoid those triggers that have been identified. Keep your food journal though because you can never be too sure.
As long as you maintain a positive attitude towards journal keeping, you should have no problems with keeping the information accurate. Don’t be lax and don’t ever think that something is too insignificant to write down. The details are the key to everything.