Figuring out what is causing symptoms of chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea after eating can be a challenge. Keeping a food diary can help you to narrow down possible foods that are causing your problems. I say help, because sometimes a food diary is not enough.
Recently I began to cough, gag, and sometimes throw up after breakfast every morning. I had no idea what was causing the problem, but thought it might be food sensitivity, so I began keeping a food diary. As the following excerpt from my food diary shows, sometimes the cause of your symptoms is completely outside of the box:
Monday, Oct. 4: I started gagging again this morning, right after breakfast. My nose started running like a faucet and I couldn't stop coughing. I wish I could figure out what was causing this - it's been almost a month! I just don't understand why it only happens at breakfast, not any other time of day.
Wednesday, Oct. 6: I feel horrible. My nose is running, I just threw up, and my stomach hurts. What could this be? I'm making a list of everything I eat for breakfast: coffee, rice milk, cereal, yogurt, and granola. I think that's it, though sometimes I have some fruit. Maybe tomorrow I'll try having something else.
Thursday, Oct. 7: Ate toast and coffee this morning. Still gagging and coughing. The weird thing is I had some coffee at the coffee shop last night and I was fine, so I know it's not the coffee - unless it could be a different kind of coffee?
Saturday, Oct. 9: Didn't throw up today. I actually feel fine. What's different? I had toast and coffee for breakfast again. Put milk and sugar in the coffee instead of my usual agave nectar. Could it be the agave nectar? I didn't even think of that when I made my list of foods. Who in the world is allergic to agave nectar?
Sunday, Oct. 10: I still feel OK. Sugar in coffee. Cautiously optimistic.
Wednesday, Oct. 13: As an experiment, put agave nectar in my coffee again this morning. Had a couple of sips and stated to cough. Felt like I was going to throw up. Dumped out that cup and tried another one with sugar instead. I think I'm on to something. But am I sensitive to all agave nectar, or had that bottle gone bad in some way?
Tuesday, Oct. 19: Ate some homemade granola, and then realized - oh no! - It was made with agave nectar. Curiously, I felt fine. Absolutely no gagging or coughing.
Wednesday, Oct. 20: All the meat I bought a couple of days ago was spoiled, so I put a thermometer in the fridge. It's only getting down to 42 degrees! Mysteriously, the agave nectar was not in the fridge - maybe all of my symptoms were caused by spoiled rice milk?
A food diary is only as good as the data that goes into it. In my case, I had completely forgotten about a food I ate every day, and it never occurred to me to check the temperature on the fridge to see if my symptoms were being caused by food poisoning.
If you are trying a food diary or elimination diet and your symptoms haven't changed, or you are developing new symptoms, then it is possible that your symptoms aren't related to a food sensitivity. For tips on how to safely use elimination diets to discover food sensitivities and intolerances see:
- Is Your Food Making You Sick? How to safely use elimination diets and food diaries to discover food sensitivities and intolerances