How to Keep an Allergy Food Diary

Two Parts:Writing Down Important Details about FoodWriting Down Important Details about Symptoms

Food allergies can be a real drag, especially if you don’t know what is causing your symptoms. If you think you have a food allergy, you’re not alone--food is the cause of most people’s allergies. In order to figure out what is actually causing your allergic reactions, you will need to keep a food diary. Scroll down to Step 1 to learn about what you need to write down and look out for when keeping a food diary.

Part 1
Writing Down Important Details about Food

  1. Image titled Keep an Allergy Food Diary Step 1
    Buy a small notebook. When you are trying to figure out what is causing your allergic reaction, it is important to always have a notebook handy that you can write down observations in. Unless you always carry around a large purse or briefcase, its probably in your best interest to buy a small notebook that can fit in a pocket of your pants or jacket. That way, it won’t be a hassle to carry it around, but you’ll still be very aware that you have it (which will help you remember that you need to write stuff down).[1]
    • You can also download an allergy diary to your smartphone, if you have one. There are many to choose from--just open the app store and browse the topic ‘allergy diary’. Most of them cost between $1 to $3 dollars.
  2. Image titled Keep an Allergy Food Diary Step 2
    Write down the specific foods that you eat at each meal. Keep track of everything thing you eat--from breakfast, to dinner, to everything in between (including snacks). On top of that, write down all of the ingredients in each dish.[2]
    • For example, rather than writing down, Lunch: Sandwich; apple; glass of milk, you would write down Lunch: Whole-wheat bread with honey ham, cheddar cheese, and mustard; apple; glass of milk.
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    Keep track of how the food you eat is cooked. As strange as it seems, some people are allergic to things when prepared one way and not another way. This is because they are actually allergic to the ingredients used to cook the food, rather than the food itself. Keep track of whether the food is fried in vegetable oil, sauteed in olive or coconut oil, or cooked with butter.
    • For example, rather than writing down Dinner: Stir fry of carrots, snap peas, and water chestnuts; rice; glass of white wine, you would write down Dinner: Stir fry of carrots, snap peas, and water chestnuts; rice; white wine. Type of cooking method: Stir fry sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic.
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    List the ingredients found on the package. If you are eating something from a box or something that has been pre-made, look at the list of ingredients on the box or package. While doing this, be aware of ‘hidden’ ingredients like dyes, flavorings, and preservatives. Food companies are required to list all of the ingredients that have gone into a product. Write all of these ingredients down with your meal.[3]
    • For example, if you ate Kraft Mac and Cheese, you would list: the noodle ingredients (wheat flour which contains B Vitamins, Niacin, mononitrate, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, iron) and the ingredients in the cheese sauce (whey, milk, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, salt, cheese culture, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, yellow 5 , yellow 6, citric acid, lactic acid).[4]
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    Keep track of what you eat while at a restaurant. If possible, go to restaurants that list the ingredients they use in their meals. Or, if you are going out to a place that doesn’t list the ingredients, don’t feel afraid to ask your waiter for a list of the ingredients used in the dish. They will be happy to help.
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    Pay attention to the amount of each food you eat. While this may be hard to do, it is important to try to keep track of the amount of each type of food you eat at a meal. Doing this will help you to figure out whether or not your allergy is dependent on the amount of food you eat.
    • For example, if you ate some pineapple and some carrots, you should try to write down Snack: Ate four large slices of pineapple and roughly 20 carrots.
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    Don’t forget to write down the drinks you have. Like food, you should be writing down all of the drinks you have and the ingredients that go into them. You should also keep track of how much of each drink you have and when you have it.
    • For example, you could write down Snack: 5 ounces of chocolate milk (2% milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup).

Part 2
Writing Down Important Details about Symptoms

  1. Image titled Keep an Allergy Food Diary Step 8
    Ask others if they are experiencing what you are experiencing before doing anything else. Sometimes, you may get a bad cut of meat or a slightly rotten fruit. If you are eating with others, ask them if they are experiencing the same symptoms that you are. Your symptoms may be related to something other than allergies if your whole family is going through what you are going through.[5]
    • For instance, if your whole family eats pizza together and you start feeling nauseous, ask others if they are also feel nauseous--your nausea may be caused by food poisoning, rather than an allergy to pizza.
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    Be aware of common symptoms that go along with a food allergy. While everyone will react differently when they are experiencing an allergic attack, there are still some common symptoms that you can look out for. These symptoms include[6]:
    • Irritation: Itching of the neck or face; flushing of the neck or face; rash; swelling of the face; hives.
    • Gastrointestinal problems: nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; bloating.
    • Other symptoms: fainting; difficulty breathing; low blood pressure; wheezing; pain in the ears.
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    Write down the time that you experience your symptoms. It is important to keep track of the things you experience while they are happening. While you might be super uncomfortable, try to write the symptoms down during the attack or immediately after. Information you should include in your description of the allergic attack include:
    • Time the attack started.
    • How long each symptom lasted for.
    • The intensity of the symptoms.
    • When all of the symptoms went away.
  4. Image titled Keep an Allergy Food Diary Step 11
    Note the activity you were doing before and during your allergic attack. Some allergic reactions can be caused by a specific food combined with a specific activity. For example, a person who is allergic to eggs might not have any symptoms if they just eat the eggs, but will start to itch and have a hard time breathing when they go for a run after eating eggs.
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    Look for a pattern. After you have been writing in your diary for at least a couple of weeks, you might be able to see a pattern forming. For example, you might notice that every time you eat peanut butter, you develop a rash on your arm. To help you find your pattern, its good to know the foods that most people are allergic to. These foods include[7]:
    • Wheat, soy, shellfish, fish, peanuts, eggs, milk, and tree nuts.


  • Ask your doctor to do an allergy test. Doing an allergy test will help you to narrow down your suspects with the help of your food diary.


  • The food diary should not be taken as a substitute for expert medical help. It is only a supplementary help in managing your food allergy. It is always best to consult your doctor.

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Categories: Diary and Secrets