Journaling: Nutritional Benefits and More!
If you have Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis you have no doubt heard about the benefits of journaling your symptoms. Health Central recently started a new journal program for the IBD site (Check out the Shareable IBD Diary here!). I thought this would be a good time to reiterate how important this simple step can be in the health of someone with IBD or any chronic illness.
Journaling your symptoms can be cathartic. It can provide a release from the tension and stress that is caused by having a chronic illness. Putting your symptoms into writing has been shown to help control anxiety. In contrast, people who bottle things up set themselves up for complicating their current health with other conditions aggravated by stress like: heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, infections and others.
Journaling can point out triggers you may have missed otherwise. If you are journaling your meals and symptoms regularly you will be more likely to notice when a specific food is triggering a flare. It can also help you to recognize if you are missing medications that may be contributing to your flare ups as well.
Journaling can provide your dietitian or physician with a more accurate idea of your nutritional status. As a nutritionist I have told patients the importance of the food journals over and over. Be truthful about your intake and include precise amounts whenever possible. Don't forget to include your beverages, even non-caloric ones. A good nutritionist or physician can use a well written journal to point out areas that you may be lacking nutrients before they cause a problem. By working with your doctor you can help to prevent a full blown deficiency from taking place.
Sharing your experience or journal with others dealing with the same illness can also provide you with the sense that someone out there "gets it". There is nothing worse than being ill and feeling alone at the same time. When you share your story you can also get feedback from others that may help you to control your symptoms in the future.
For me, the best part of sharing my own families' struggles is that it has been used to help others. None of us wants to be in pain or to have loved ones in pain. Unfortunately that is not something we are able to choose. However, how we handle it from this point on is up to us!
Read more about the benefits of keeping a journal here: