Why Do I Need a Food Journal?
September 14, 2021
One of the most common questions I get here at My Child Will Thrive is why do I need to keep a food journal for my child? Having a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder usually comes with a lot of frustrating nights searching the web to find something that may help your child and the idea of keeping a detailed journal can seem daunting. I remember spending countless hours researching ways to help my child and keeping a food journal was one of the best things I did not only for our family, but for our practitioners to get an inside look at what was happening in my child’s day-to-day food intake and digestion.
In today’s podcast, I share with you why keeping a journal is so important, why food, mood, digestion and hydration are so important to track and an upcoming implementation workshop I have where you can ask in-depth questions using my Food Mood Sleep and Poop Journal that is part of the My Child Will Thrive Tool Kit. I created this tool kit for parents just like you who want to gain confidence and clarity that they are making the best choices for their child based on their unique circumstances so that they can make forward progress faster.
I hope you enjoy today’s podcast episode about why you should be keeping a food journal! Let me know if there are any other topics you’d like for me to talk about on the My Child Will Thrive podcast.
- Where to get the My Child Will Thrive Food, Mood, Sleep, and Poop Journal. (3:40)
- Why garbage in, garbage out is true and the importance of tracking everything. (4:42)
- Tracking more than just food – make sure to track hydration, poop and sleep! (6:42)
- What different types of bowel movements (like constipation or fast transit times) can tell you about your child. (10:07)
- Learning how to incorporate this journal at the RAIRE Method Implementation Workshop on September 22 or in the future. (12:48)
Resources and Links
Get your Food Mood Sleep and Poop Journal here: My Child Tool Kit
Join us for the next workshop here: RAIRE Method Implementation Workshop
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More about Tara Hunkin
Tara Hunkin, Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified GAPS Practitioner, Restorative Wellness Practitioner, mother and founder of My Child Will Thrive (website and podcast) author and host of the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit.
My Child Will Thrive was founded out of the frustration Tara felt when searching for explanations and solutions for her daughter. Doctor visits left her with more questions than answers and she was forced to do the research and find her own way to help her child. Tara’s daughter is now a thriving 16-year-old, succeeding in and out of school.
Tara now supports parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders struggling to find the right combination of treatments and therapies through educating and coaching them so that they can get the best results for their children while saving time, money and effort.
Tara continues to expand her knowledge by attending and speaking at conferences and is a member of the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, and Nutritional Therapy Association.
00:01 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified GAPs Practitioner, Restorative Wellness Practitioner, and mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities.
My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer before we get started.
My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds. If not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.
Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better judge. what is normal or abnormal for your child. The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty.
Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to www.mychildwillthrive.com/summit.
2:05 Tara Hunkin:
Hi, welcome back to My Child Will Thrive podcast. I'm Tara Hunkin, Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, mother and Founder of My Child Will Thrive. And I want to talk to you today about the question I always get, one of the many, which is why do I need to keep a food journal for my child? So I completely understand the question. It is a tedious task that we really don't like to do among all the other things that we do everyday for our children, but it is one that can provide you and your practitioner that you're working with the information and the data that you need in order to figure out what those root causes are of your child's symptoms and it will ultimately get you better results faster with less effort. So with that in mind, I want to talk to you today about some of the reasons for that and it goes a little bit beyond just being about food though.
I prefer that people collect information that includes food, their child's mood, their sleep and their poop. So we're talking about obviously the bowel movements throughout the day, because all that information is going to help us. And when we talk about food, we also talk about hydration as well. So if you had don't or haven't gathered that information before or you don't have a good framework for doing that, feel free to download the My Child Will Thrive Food, Mood, Sleep, and Poop Journal, and it can be found at www.mychildwillthrive.com/toolkit.
And in that toolkit, you have many things, including a downloadable 30 day food journal for your child. So I encourage you, you can pause the recording right now and go get that and then come back because there's other things in that toolkit that we'll be talking about today too, but getting the journal going is the first step.
The second step is making sure that when you are actually going to the trouble of recording things, is that we record everything in detail. And I know again, that creates a lot of work, but the adage "garbage in, garbage out" applies to food journaling because if we don't gather all the information in all the detail that we possibly can, then we may miss a key clue. So for example, if your child is a child that loves to have ketchup and maybe a lot of ketchup with their meals, but you only write down that they had eggs and you didn't put down ketchup and then their mood you tracked has said that after their meal, they seemed to be really hyperactive.
You may have noticed some other things, but that ketchup wasn't denoted in your food journal, then you may miss that they are possibly sensitive to phenols, and salicylates that are found in things like ketchup from tomatoes. And if you don't know that, you don't know that you could have a very simple solution to helping to modify that behavior immediately by removing that particular type of food that can cause those symptoms to see if that is the root cause and then you can work on the underlying root causes as to why they can't tolerate that.
So that's one example of many that we can find by sifting through this unbelievable amount of information that comes when you gather details about their food, mood, sleep and poop. If you don't love tracking it by writing, you can also take pictures of the before and after of your child's plate or dish of some kind to show what you put on their plate and what they actually consumed and they don't have to write it all down, and you can gather that together as well. And maybe at the end of the day write it out, just so it's all in one place so it makes it a little easier to then interpret later on. So we want to gather as much information as we can. We want to gather it in detail.
6:42 Tara Hunkin:
We're going to gather information about the food, because obviously as I just gave you an example, there are certain food sensitivities or intolerances or allergies potentially that may be contributing to behaviors, but they also might be a sign in terms of reactions to them gut health or the ability to digest proteins or many, many other things. So there's that, you're tracking their mood. And then you're obviously going to track their hydration because hydration is a key component of overall health and wellness.
And sometimes it's amazing how these low-hanging fruit, we think that our kids are getting enough hydration throughout the day, but then when we actually analyze that food journal, it also happens with adults by the way, we think that we're taking enough water or fluids and then we realize that actually they're having a lot of things that might have a diuretic effect. And actually their hydration is a contributing factor as well. And hydration is the underlying factor in so many different types of symptoms and dysfunctions that an entire book has been written about it. "The Body's Many Cries for Water" is one of my favorite books that demonstrates how hydration has a pervasive impact on our health and our children's health as well.
So we're gathering food, we're gathering how much they're drinking and what they're drinking throughout the day, their corresponding moods at the different times of the day. And also if they're getting movement throughout the day, we like to track that as well. And then we are also going to track their sleep.
So we want to talk about when they went to sleep and when they woke up and the type of sleep they had if they woke up through the night, because we can also pull lots of information out about that as well. And again, what we're looking for when we're interpreting these things is opportunities to make small changes that can have big impacts or those things that are the roadblocks.
When you have a tough kid and you think you've tried everything, often we can find little things within the trends and patterns within a food journal in order to find those things that are opportunities to improve healing, and also improve the performance of other therapies or treatments we may already be doing with our children.
So we're going to track their sleep, and we're also going to track their poop. So digestion is key. Obviously, if we're feeding our kids all sorts of great food, but they aren't digesting it properly, they may be nutrient deficient. There is so much research out there that tells us that nutrient deficiencies are often found in a number of different neural developmental challenges like ADHD and autism, and children that have speech apraxia and on and on and on. So we want to make sure that not only our children are eating the right foods, but they're also digesting them. And we can figure that out together through tracking their bowel movements.
10:07 Tara Hunkin:
The types of bowel movements that they have, a lot of times, we don't understand what constipation really looks like, believe it or not. And sometimes when we see the fluctuations between the types of bowel movements, we can identify that actually a child that may look like they aren't constipated, they are because they're fluctuating between diarrhea and constipation or harder stools.
And children that have loose stools on a regular basis, we're going to be obviously concerned that they're not absorbing the nutrients possibly because of high transit times or fast transit times. So there's so much information that we can take out of this type of information. So food, drink, sleep, mood and movement. If they're getting activity and movement as well as always nice to have on there as well and obviously bowel movements.
Once we've gathered all this information, this is what I talk about within the RAIRE Method that I like to talk about here at My Child Will Thrive. RAIRE stands for (it's an acronym) R A I R E, and it's Record, Analyze, Interpret, Review and Execute. So it's an infinite loop of how we go about looking at what's going on with our child and assessing what's going on with them right now.
And this first step is always recording as much information as we can. And the recording for the purposes of our conversation today is really about the food journal and food, mood, sleep and poop, but we get data that we use in this method and your practitioners will take in by doing different types of testing that can be done whether it's blood work or stool or saliva, or it could be a functional assessment of some kind as well. So we take in all that data and then we want to analyze it, interpret it and review and then all the information that we have to then come up with a new plan that you can execute.
What you need to do is to complete your food journals so that you have some of that really, really important data for your practitioners and only you unfortunately can do that. So I highly recommend, as I said before, that you download the My Child Will Thrive Food, Mood, Sleep, and Poop Journal, which you can find at www.mychildwillthrive.com/toolkit.
12:48 Tara Hunkin:
And if you want help understanding more of these steps in terms of how to interpret and analyze that information that you're gathering in a food, mood, sleep and poop journal, then I encourage you to join us at a RAIRE Method Implementation Workshop. We have one coming up on September the 22nd and if you can't attend live, or you're listening to this recording after the fact, we have them on a regular basis so you can still go to the link and see when our next workshop is.
This one we're going to look at how we interpret and analyze a food, mood, sleep and poop journal to get that information out so we can review it before we go to our practitioner or have that conversation with our practitioner so we can make decisions moving forward. And the workshops give you an opportunity to submit questions in advance, or you can ask them live on the actual call because it is a live call where we are going to talk about these things and work through them together and help you get unstuck on your path with your child and find those opportunities. So if you're interested in joining me for the next workshop or one in the future, you can check out the details about that at www.mychildwillthrive.com/workshop.
I hope this has been helpful for you today. As always, you know your child best. And when you participate in this process by gathering information like this, you're going to get those results that you're looking for - more effective results faster, and with less time and energy involved in getting them. I hope this has been helpful. I would love it if you've enjoyed today's episode, if you would subscribe to the podcast and even give us a review so that more people and parents like yourselves can hear more about the options for their children that we'd present here at My Child Will Thrive. Bye for now.
So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village so join us in the My Child Will Thrive Village Facebook group, where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com.
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