Food Journaling: GERD, Intolerances & Allergies
I have been food journaling for a few months now, in an attempt to try to figure out how certain foods make me feel and how my body responds to them.
Food journaling is when you write down everything you eat and drink, and how it makes you feel and how your body responds to it. This is different from meal planning as it’s not a plan for what you eat, but instead a recording of what you actually ate.
The first time I did food journaling was actually years ago, early on in my high school career, after I got the last flu shot I have had, I kept getting sick every month once a month, as I would just suddenly wake up with an ear and/or sinus infection. I wouldn’t have any warning symptoms or be sick the days before, as instead I would wake up sick with a drippy throat, runny or stuffy nose and ear pain. It appeared the problem was that my body was reacting to something, and this cycle of getting constantly sick went on for about two years.
Eventually it was determined by my doctor that I was suddenly getting reflux, and I was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which according to mayoclinic.org is “when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus).”
As a result I had to record everything I was eating, and restart my diet. I couldn’t eat tomatoes, applesauce, especially cinnamon applesauce, chocolate, garlic, onion, anything spicy or minty, or drink tea or juice.
Through trial and error, after taking out certain foods and drinks from my diet and attempting to put them back in, I have learned that I can’t eat anything at least two hours before I go to sleep. I also really don’t drink tea or juice that often anymore, and if I do, I drink it before the evening. I try to not eat chocolate or candy too late in the day, and I usually try to completely avoid eating spicy or minty foods. If I have something like pepperoni or garlic, I only eat very small amounts of it in the day before the evening, and I drink a ton of water with it. I no longer eat cinnamon applesauce, or really any applesauce, and I also completely avoid onion.
These specific foods I avoid or limit is because of GERD as they cause me to have reflux, but I'm not allergic to these specific foods. The foods I'm allergic to (peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and legumes) would lead to an allergic reaction and could potentially kill me, and foods I'm intolerant to (lactose, heavy cream and eggs) make me sick to my stomach. It appears reflux was the reason I was getting ear and sinus infections every month. As a result there’s more than just the foods I’m allergic and intolerant to that I need to avoid, or limit as my body is sensitive to the foods that cause me to have reflux.
For the past few months I have been writing down what I am eating and how it makes me feel. I haven’t done this in years, and it took some practice before I got used to doing it everyday again. I have realized that food in addition to potentially making me sick and hurting me, it also affects how my body feels.
I have been eating more healthy foods during quarantine such as grilled chicken, spinach and the other fruits and vegetables I’m not allergic to. These foods usually make me feel good, except sometimes after eating some fruits I have found myself to have a few tiny hives, or breakout.
I tend to feel a burning sensation in my throat, have stomach pain and sickness, have a headache, and sometimes have difficulty swallowing, or feel really tired or even sick after eating processed food, like crackers, or too salty or oily foods, like chips, and any items filled with dairy, eggs and gluten. These symptoms may be related to my GERD and even my intolerances.
I have intolerances to lactose, heavy cream and eggs. I avoid eating ice cream, heavy cream, cream cheese and ricotta cheese, as these items all make me severely sick to my stomach, due to my intolerance. I also try to avoid mayonnaise, as it’s too creamy. If I consume milk, I only drink lactose free milk, as non dairy milk options usually consist of nuts and legumes, which I am allergic to. So the egg and dairy situation makes sense, as I already know that my body has problems with them, but the gluten is interesting.
As I mentioned in the post, I’m not allergic to everything, I still need to speak with my allergist about why my body is so sensitive.