If you want to ensure success in managing thyroid and hormone symptoms with the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet, studies show keeping a food diary can help with your success sticking to the diet.
We know this from weight loss studies, in which those who kept a food diary lost 30 to 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t. If you’re working to manage your thyroid, the overriding goal is to tame your autoimmune thyroid condition, not lose weight, however the dietary changes that poses can be challenging. Luckily, you don’t have to go hungry on the AIP diet!
Keeping a food diary keeps you honest
It’s easy to think you are eating one way when the truth is actually quite different. It’s amazing how we can hide behavior from ourselves. Keeping track of what you eat not only keeps it real, it also gives you clues if you experience a flare of your symptoms. Maybe you experienced cross contamination at a restaurant, or that nibble of an immune reactive food was worse than you thought.
Keeping a food diary for weight loss
With a food diary, knowing you have to record what you eat is proven motivation to stick to the AIP diet. That dessert with gluten or dairy loses appeal when you have to add it your log, knowing it may very well trigger an autoimmune flare. Conversely, writing down all the safe foods you ate is a great way to bolster motivation and give yourself a pat on the back.
It also helps to record timing, location, and mood with your meals and snacks. You may notice waiting too long between meals predisposes you to go off your AIP diet, that a particular person or situation triggers sugar cravings, or that you feel brain fog or depression after a certain food.
Keeping a food diary for Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions
Food journals aren’t just for losing weight. The dramatic dietary and lifestyle changes a chronic health condition such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism requires means giving up some favorite comfort foods, such as gluten and dairy.
Other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus also respond to dietary changes. Recording your diet and symptoms both helps with compliance and shows which foods flare your autoimmunity. This is especially important in the reintroduction phase. For instance, you may be gluten-free and dairy-free, but you notice your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism symptoms flare when you eat eggs.
Keeping a food journal to find food sensitivities
A food diary is an excellent companion to the reintroduction phase of the AIP diet. After you have eliminated common triggers such as grains, dairy, eggs, soy, and sweeteners for a number of weeks, you reintroduce each food one at a time every 48 to 72 hours and see whether you react, whether it is a thyroid flare or other reactions. It is not recommended to reintroduce gluten given the studied links between Hashimoto’s and gluten. Dairy is also not recommended because it cross reacts with gluten and is immune reactive for so many Hashimoto’s patients.
Ask my office about tips for keeping a food journal, managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and if the AIP diet is right for you + how to implement it.