It might not seem like it, but my 8 steps to creating the best food journal is a vulnerable post.

Getting to the point where I created my gut healing journaling SYSTEM for the Gutsy community was over a decade in the making (as you’re about to see).

And during the years I spent creating this final version, so much happened. The way I went about healing, to be honest, usually was not very healing at all.

While I always feel somewhat embarrassed about showing these old ways and journals, I think they are vital for understanding how and why I not only created the journal how I did, but also why I teach, preach, and believe the things I do today.

You’ll see what I mean while I show you the 8 steps to creating the best food journal.

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8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal

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8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #journal

1. 2007

Shortly after moving from Minnesota to California, I thought it would be a good idea to start writing out what I was eating.

The reason was that I had just come off of a 21-day detox in which every single symptom was seemingly gone.

And at the time, one of the symptoms that plagued me the most was a lingering tongue and mouth issue.

At this time in my life, I had ZERO clues about what to eat and/or what was going on. I did, however, start understanding that wheat/gluten was potentially affecting me.

So what you see in this journal is:

  • The date
  • Lines of food
  • Symptoms
  • Some highlighted sections
  • “Low” = to indicate what I thought were low offenders
  • “Dairy” = to indicate what I thought dairy was 
  • “Mistake – definite wheat/gluten” = to indicate mistakes
  • “Safe” = to indicate things I thought were for sure safe
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal step 1 #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal

2. Later 2007

You’ll notice many of the same things, but I started to streamline and organize a little more. In addition to the previous example, you see:

  1. Times associated with food. This was because I knew I needed to start tracking time and symptoms. 
  2. A number behind the food. It was around this time when I started in on doing Weight Watchers for the second time. Awful idea, but there it is.
  3. Workouts. I added this in, mostly because I was doing Weight Watchers. No other reason than that during this time period.
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal step 2 #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal

3. 2008

Notebook changes in 2008, and I got super strict with food journaling for more than just writing down food.

I was *obsessed* with Weight Watchers by this point because my wedding was coming up.

In addition to the things from above, here you’ll see:

  1. Supplements added
  2. Workout type and length (but again, I only recorded this information or Weight Watchers purposes)
  3. Daily fruit and veggie consumption
  4. Water tracking
  5. Weight tracking (and yes, I weighed myself on an almost daily basis and recorded it)
  6. The green “E” sticker was to note that I “ate well”
  7. The yellow “W” sticker was to note that I got my workout in
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal step 3 #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal

4. 2009

By now, the wedding is over.

I was diagnosed with Colitis shortly before the wedding.

So once the wedding was over, I began working with a nutritionist and really diving into healing.

8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal step 4 #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal

I sort of started over on the food journaling and symptom tracking journey.

Honestly? I went back to the basics, but it was short lived.

The above shows how I was instructed to journal, so I followed a similar pattern.

5. Major (journaling) gap

I stopped doing the very basic journaling because it didn’t work.

Remember what I said –> THIS is why your food journaling template does not work.

The above basic-ness does not work. But that was not the only reason I stopped food journaling for such a long time (from about late 2009-2019).

Here were other reasons:

  1. I was sick of food journaling “not working.” 
  2. There was no food and lifestyle journal out there that was just right for what I was doing.
  3. I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and began using a journal that was vastly different than anything I had ever known. And by the way, that journaling method was fantastic; an inspiration for some of the things I do to this day.
  4. My gut healing “diets” were all over the place. 
  5. I was heavy in researching all the things.
  6. There wasn’t any time to create a food journal for gut healing that was conducive for a real gut healing journey because I was sick – a lot! Between all the gut issues, then fertility drugs and treatments, then an IVF cycle, adopting a baby and running myself into the ground, Perioral Dermatitis, and more – I was exhausted. The thing was, though, I just didn’t know it at the time. 

6. 2016

In early 2016, I was catching my gut-healing stride.

I had all appropriate diagnoses, began studying the art of bullet journaling.

I started slowly, practicing with the concept on normal lines.

Things I included then:

  • Gut healing symbols
  • Medications
  • Supplements
  • Placing most things in order as they happened on a daily basis
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal step 6 #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal

7. Late 2016 – 2018

The above just kept on evolving.

I started to see things that were working (and not working).

I moved my bullet journal from a generic notebook to a grid-lined book. And instead of tracking many of the things I did early on, I focused on creating something that was conducive to a holistic healing approach.

Here were some of the pages.

  1. Incorporating healing with daily tasks so I didn’t need to keep two separate planners.
  2. Habits tracker
  3. Color coding based on various things
  4. Daily gratitude
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal final inspirations 2 bullet
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal final inspirations 3 elimination diet
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal final inspirations 4 gut healing
8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #guthealth #guthealing #foodjournal final inspirations 1

8. Putting it all together

It wasn’t until after I fully healed that I could put together an extraordinary gut healing journal.

It’s hard to create something like this when you’re in the thick of it. Why? Because you can’t see outside the bubble you’re in.

And also, because you’re not healed, clearly there is something missing.

The Best Food Journal

When I reflect on all the journaling I did, I’m able to extract very clear thoughts. And it also became 1,000% evident for why I never healed before.

Was it because I did or didn’t drink the bone broth? 

No way.

8 Steps to Creating the Best Food Journal #foodjournal #bulletjournal #healthjournal #guhealth

It was because of these 8 main journal failures:

1. Too much focus on weight

Ahara Dinacharya has you track weight just 1 time; strategically and intentionally.

Also, don’t do it if you don’t want. 

2. Counting

I counted points, calories, fat, and more.

However, I was not counting ingredients vs ingredient(s).

This is critical.

It’s also one reason why your food journaling is failing you.

3. Less

Honestly? My early journals were about less…..fewer calories, less foods, lower weight, etc. etc.

Nothing about more (unless it was more workouts) was “good.”

4. Speaking of workouts

I tracked workouts backwards.

How much could I do vs. what effect was doing so much having on me? 

Huge difference.

5. Zero lifestyle focus

In the early days, I did track some water intake, but that’s about it.

There was nothing on sleep, stress, personal care products, how I was eating (instead of just what) etc.

Turns out those things were about 90% of my forever healing.

6. Too much

Because I had to keep track of food and symptoms and also regular daily tasks and schedules, I was not able to be consistent because I had notebooks spread about everywhere.

One for gut healing and another for all the daily stuff. 

It was just too much.

7. Female things

Early journals never took into account the female cycle.

I never recorded which cycle day I was on, but it’s very important.

Trust me, you will more than likely see cycle connections.

8. Time frame

Before, I never had a plan, goal, or end date for the journals. They were just sort of ongoing.

You might think this is okay, but I can promise you that when you break it down by my 28-day method, you’ll find far more success.

This is because: The gut healing journey is so long. If you think there is no end in sight, you’ll give up far easier. 

8 food journal mistakes

28-Day Gut Healing Journal

The journal I brought to life for you addresses all my prior failures.

It is an all-in-one tracking journal that I am not only proud of, but also super confident in.

And I designed it to be valuable and useful no matter what part of your journey your in and/or how difficult things might be currently.

Remember in #5 from above when I couldn’t possibly consider massive journaling because so much was going on – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here’s the thing. I do not want that for you.

You should be able to simply pick this journal up and go no matter the season of healing or life you’re in.

I’m very glad to be on the other side of gut, hormonal, and skin hell.

And yet, I’m still grateful that I went through it with a journal in tote.

Because now, all the mistakes have been bundled into a system YOU WILL benefit from.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

  1. 34 Gut Health and Healing Habits {to Track in Your Bullet Journal}
  2. 11 Yearly Gut Health Tracker Bullet Journal Ideas
  3. Self-Love Guided Journal {21-days of prompts for your healing journey}

Questions? Just ask. (Clearly) I’m an open book.

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