Food & Symptom Journaling: Why it Matters

let's talk autoimmunity & anti-inflammatory living Apr 12, 2024
Dr. Kara Wada with Jenifer Tharani on the Becoming Immune Confident Podcast discussing potential triggers of autoimmune symptoms and strategies for immune health empowerment

Anyone struggling with autoimmune conditions or allergies knows that what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Yet, figuring out exactly which foods are causing problems can feel like solving a complex puzzle. That's where food and symptom tracking comes in.

In this blog post, Dr. Kara Wada (allergist/immunologist) and Jenifer Tharani (autoimmune dietitian) discuss this vital tool. They explain how detailed journaling can illuminate hidden connections, leading to better symptom management and a more fulfilling, inflammation-free life.

The Role of Food Journaling in Identifying Food Triggers

"A food and symptom journal is like a detective's notebook for your body," explains Jenifer Tharani. It's not just about writing down that red meat gave you joint pain. We need to consider the whole picture: was it a stressful day? Did you skip lunch? Did you also have highly processed deli meat? Tracking all these factors helps reveal the true culprits.

Beyond Elimination: The Downsides of Restrictive Diets

While eliminating certain foods might be necessary for some people, Jenifer warns against overly restrictive diets. "They can backfire," she says. "They create unnecessary food fear, can leave you nutrient deficient, and actually contribute to inflammation."

Instead, she champions a focus on addition. What nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods can you add to your plate to crowd out less-healthy options?

Sustainable Tracking for Long-term Health

Don't worry, you don't need to track every bite forever! Jenifer recommends starting with an intensive tracking period, then using the journal strategically:

  • Flare-Ups: When symptoms worsen, track to identify new triggers.
  • Check-Ins: Periodically reassess how your body responds to foods.

Personal Stories: Dr. Kara Wada's Journey with Food Sensitivities

Dr. Kara shares her struggle with egg intolerance after her daughter was born. "There was a period where eggs led to terrible gut problems," she recalls. Through a focus on plant-based eating and improving her gut health, she's now able to enjoy eggs again. This highlights how our bodies can change, and food intolerances aren't always permanent.

Building Anti-inflammatory Meals: A Practical Guide

So, the foods you eliminate will be unique to you (which is why food journaling is key!). But what about the foods to add for anti-inflammatory benefits? That's where a simple framework can be a huge help.

Jenifer Tharani and her team have a practical tool they use with clients. It involves focusing on a few key areas when planning meals:

  • Include Quality Protein: Lean meats, fish, beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds provide the building blocks your immune system needs.
  • Focus on Healthy Fats: Think avocado, olive oil, fatty fish; these help reduce inflammation and nourish your cells.
  • Choose Color: Fill your plate with brightly colored vegetables – think a rainbow of options! These offer powerful antioxidants and nutrients.
  • Don't Forget Flavor: Spices like turmeric and ginger add flavor and anti-inflammatory potential.
  • Fiber is Your Friend: Aim for a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber from veggies, whole grains, and beans to support gut health.

Expanding the Focus Beyond the Plate

It's important to remember that what you eat is only one piece of the puzzle. Jenifer also emphasizes the importance of factors like:

  • Managing Stress: Chronic stress can raise inflammation levels and worsen symptoms.
  • Prioritizing Sleep: Your body repairs itself while you sleep, making it vital for good health.
  • Regular Movement: Find ways to move your body that you enjoy; it helps boost circulation and fight inflammation.


Food and symptom tracking is not about deprivation but empowerment. It gives you insights into your unique body, helping you make informed choices. As Dr. Kara puts it, "Knowledge combined with a focus on nourishing your body is the path to true immune confidence."

Are you ready to embark on your own path to becoming immune confident?

Together, let's embrace the journey to vibrant health and lasting confidence!

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