You’ve realized that your stomach aches, pains and processes are not “normal”. What next? It’s time to keep track of your symptoms in an organized manner over a specific period of time – using something we call a Symptom Journal, Patient Log, or Medical Diary. For consistency, I’m going to call it a symptom journal in this blog.
A symptom journal is all about identifying the what, when, why, and how of your gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
Keeping this journal for at least a week will give you a clearer picture of what is going on with your body. You know your body better than anyone, and this allows you to know it even better. You will be more mindful and knowledgeable instead of just guessing or assuming.
This symptom journal can also provide information for your physician or dietitian, as it takes much less time for your healthcare provider to review your diary than to gather a verbal report.
There are several ways to start this journal. Some of my clients use a composition notebook, a legal pad, or printed form where they can fill in the blanks. Others like a document, template, or spreadsheet they can keep open on their laptop or phone. Do what is most likely to work for you. Here are just a couple of examples (I do not get any kickbacks by recommending these; please find ones that you like.)
1. Digital Tracker
2. iPhone App
3. Example (if you use this example, be sure to customize to include how long symptoms last as well as alleviating factors and any other details that might help):
Up next: The Elimination Diet!
What does a dietitian, nutritionist, and health professional do when she discovers she has to avoid gluten? I mean, avoid it to prevent painful symptoms, not to follow a trend!