There are two simple ways to get the most out of your diary: stay consistent in your tracking each day, and always take time at the end of 31 days to go through the Monthly Page.
Okay, let’s rewind.
What’s the Monthly Page?
It’s the part of the system that is, arguably, the most important part. Without it, you could go through 3 months of tracking and not figure out a single thing. It’s there to prompt you to stop, sit down, and analyse the information you’ve been writing down over the previous month.
Let’s break down its components:
Good Days/Bad Days
First, the overview of your month.
You can customize this section any way you like, but the gist of it is: flip through your last 31 days and, taking into account the amount of symptoms, your mood and stress levels for each day, and give it a rating.
You can rate it from say, 1 (bad) to 5 (good!), ticks and crosses, smiley faces and angry faces…create a judging system that you can look at and instantly understand. Write it down in the notes section so you won’t forget.
This Month I found:
Now for the deeper analysis. First, use your ‘Good Days/Bad Days’ chart to pinpoint a run of good or a run of bad days. Flip back to the corresponding Daily Pages in your diary.
If you had several bad days in a row, start there. Get curious, and start asking yourself questions. What was happening on those days? What did you eat? What did you drink? (What did you not drink?) When did you eat, how much stress were you under, what was your sleep like? Did you start new medication? Did you get any exercise? Look at it objectively, and note down your observations in this section here.
You can also flip it, and look at a run of good days! Ask yourself the same questions – what made these days good? How and what did I eat, when did I eat, how often? Did I drink more water, did I get more and better sleep, did I lay off the coffees or the sugar or exercise more? Use your diary to make educated guesses at what behaviours created a better day for you. Write down your findings.
Next Month I Will:
Here comes the promise you make to yourself. Next month, you will… and based on the observations you made in the second section, you’ll pick a couple of things to either change, or keep the same, to help your body.
Pro tip: don’t try to change several things at once, especially if you’re reintroducing foods back into your diet after testing their removal. If you change one thing at a time, you will then definitively be able to say whether it is something that affects you or not. I know it’s a long process but it’s worth it to feel better and ease your gut distress!
With all the information now at your fingertips from the previous month, you can use this section to write out the concrete things you think are affecting you. (e.g. gluten, apples, corn, soy, dairy, and so on).
Use this section as a reminder as you go forward into the next month. I found writing them out very clearly made it easier to keep them in mind, and helped me to avoid these things. It was a constant reminder that, for example, gluten did not agree with me…which is a difficult thing to remember when faced with freshly baked glutenous goods.
So. In summary. Do not skip this page.
Without it, you may not ever manage to spot the patterns and things that negatively (or positively!) affect your health. Make it a fun experience: sit down for fifteen minutes, or half an hour (whatever you can spare!), make yourself a fancy drink or treat, arm yourself with a highlighter and go. To. Town. With the information you’re about to uncover, you’ll be the boss of your body in no time. You want to beat that IBS right? You want to enjoy life, be happy, know what makes your feel great, right?! Take the time now, and your body will thank you later.
Don't have a diary yet and want a monthly page of your own to fill in? Get one right here.