This post is part of our Autoimmune Health Journal series. The rest of the posts in this series include:
Long ago, in the land of gluten, dairy, and corn, I discovered something…
If I stopped eating my “favorite” snacks, magical things would happen.
The random swelling in my throat that happened nearly every single day, particularly during the afternoon where I had important work meetings and fought to hold back tears as I tried to talk?
Seasonal allergies that no combination of prescription allergy meds or nasal sprays could suppress?
Cut in half (at least).
WOW! What other things in my daily life were sabotaging my health?
Actually, quite a few things, but I only found them by keeping a health journal (just one of the many benefits of recording your daily observations).
Here’s the issue though… autoimmune disease is this crazy, complicated puzzle that very few types of “weight loss” or “fitness” health journals are equipped to tackle.
I could care less about counting calories when I’m trying to determine if chia seeds are the culprit behind the eczema on my pinky finger. This is why I prefer to make my own health journal.
(And if you want the same exact health journal template I use, you can download it from our members-only toolkit by subscribing below. It’s free!)
But, I know making your own isn’t always ideal – it’s inconvenient, and when your brain is foggy, the task of creating a health journal is at the bottom of the list.
So, here are some other options that may just do the trick depending on what you’re after. This list is a mix of physical health journals, health journal templates you can buy and print off, and health journal apps you can download on your phone.
(FYI – these are not ranked in any particular order.)
The Best Health Journals for Managing Your Autoimmune Disease
Paperback/Spiral-Bound Health Journals
1. Health Minder Journal
Pros: This health journal is one of the most comprehensive I could find for tracking overall health and symptoms. It includes a daily tracker for:
- Vitals such as temperature, blood sugar, etc.
- Vitamins/Herbs/Other supplements
- Pain and skin issues (including a human body diagram to circle the areas that are bothersome)
- Physical activity
- Meals and snacks
- A section broken down by body part/general area to record further details of bothersome symptoms
In addition to the daily tracker, it also includes full pages to record medical tests, insurance and pharmacies, healthcare providers, notes and questions, personal medical history, and purchases.
If you want to see pictures, shout-out to this reviewer who took a bunch.
Cons: This is definitely not a pretty journal. It’s all business.
Many of the sections are small, and the layout might make it difficult to track food reactions. There isn’t dedicated space to write down time of day for onset of symptoms, which I think, is a big deal when trying to determine specific triggers.
It only includes a small space for comments at the end of the day.
Based on some of the reviews, there are also no dedicated pages for preparing/taking notes at doctor visits.
2. Health Journal: Discover Food Intolerances and Allergies: (A Food Diary that Tracks your Triggers and Symptoms) 1st Edition
Pros: If you are specifically after identifying food intolerances/allergies and environmental/chemical sensitivities, this health journal is made just for that.
It includes a daily tracker for:
- Weight, blood pressure, blood sugar
- Meals (including time you ate)
- Possible chemical/environmental irritants
- Symptoms (including time and severity)
- Water intake
- Hours of sleep
- Medication and supplements
- Physical Activity
It also includes a “Symptoms Glossary” to bring awareness to what types of symptoms to keep an eye out for, and multiple pages for notes and comments.
Cons: This biggest con based on reviews is that this is a paperback journal, which means it doesn’t lay open and is difficult to write in.
This isn’t necessarily a con, but just a note that this is truly just for food and environmental reactions, so it is lacking for further detailed descriptions of symptoms like pain and mood – but, there is a possibility that you could fit these details in the notes section.
3. Food Sensitivity Journal: Daily Logbook for Optimal Wellness
Pros: This health journal is one of my favs for tracking food sensitivities. It includes a daily tracker for:
- Meals (including time)
- Bowel movements, including what type (a lot of health journals lack this)
- Notes after each meal
- Sleep tracker
- Water intake
- Additional space for notes
The layout is clean and I like that not everything requires writing – for example, you just need to circle a number for type of bowel movements and cross out a water drop to record water intake.
Cons: There is definitely not enough space for the Vitamins/Medication section. This might work for some people just starting out, but for someone like me who needs to take about 10 supplements a day, it definitely falls short. I would need a completely separate notebook/tracker.
See it on Amazon.
4. Personal Food and Health Tracker: Six-Week Food and Symptoms Diary
Pros: What’s great about this health journal is that the layout encourages you to plan your day ahead of time, which is really crucial for following through with your goals. It includes a daily tracker for:
- What you plan on eating (meals and snacks)
- What you actually ate
- What exercise/physical activity you plan on doing
- What exercise/physical activity you actually did
- A table to record how you’re feeling physically and emotionally throughout the day (AM, Mid-day, and PM)
- Water intake
- Sleep quality
- Stress level
- Stress management
I especially like that it includes a tracker for physical AND emotional health. Sometimes, mental health can give a much better indication of food sensitivities and other triggers that cause inflammation.
There are also separate pages for long-term and short-term goal planning.
Cons: As with many of the journals in this list, the section for supplements/medications is tiny. The description claims the book is paperback, which might cause some issues if it doesn’t stay flat while recording your notes.
Printable Health Journals
5. The Ultimate Health Journal e-Book
Pros: This is a very simple, printable health journal that is fantastic for managing all aspects of lifestyle. The daily tracker has open sections (rather than charts or tables) for:
- Sunlight exposure (this is very important, but is rarely included in a health journal)
- Stress management
What I really like about this is that it truly is a “journal” – it has an open layout that allows you to record multiple aspects of your lifestyle rather than just focusing on one thing like food sensitivities or symptoms. Just the exercise of recording each of these events every day builds awareness of patterns and where you need to make changes.
Plus, it’s super affordable at only $6.99.
Cons: It is a downloadable e-book, so you’ll have to print out the template to use it every day. This can be time-consuming or pricey depending on whether or not you have access to a printer.
See it here on A Clean Plate.
6. Printable Food and Symptom Tracker
Pros: This is a clean & simple one-page printable health journal template. At only $5.00, it’s very affordable and includes a daily tracker for:
- Water intake
- Bowel movements (including a description to help you record the right details)
Cons: The Medications/Supplements section, as well as the Symptoms section is pretty small. Sometimes though, focusing on just the 1-3 of your worst symptoms, instead of every single symptom, is way more manageable – so it might not be a bad thing after all.
It is a printable, so you do need access to a printer. Since it’s only 1 page, it does not include any other pages to record notes, doctor’s visits, etc.
I would probably use this in a health binder, where I could add other pages/templates to make it more complete.
Health Journal Apps
7. Cara Food, Mood, and Poop Tracker
Pros: This app is great for tracking digestive/gut health, which is very common in many autoimmune conditions due to leaky gut. It helps you track:
- Meals (with the ability to take pictures)
- Bowel movements
- Gut pain
- Period/menstrual cycles
- Skin conditions
- Physical activity
- Other symptoms such as pain
In addition, you can save recipes and record notes. But what’s even cooler is that Cara will analyze your data and show you what factors have influence over your symptoms. You can even download all of your results to show your doctor.
With over 12,000 reviews, this app has a 4.7/5 star rating (for the iOS version). Obviously people are digging it.
Fun fact: it was developed by doctors. And it’s free! Oh, and you have access to chat with a certified nutritionist if needed.
Cons: First, it appears that the iOS/Apple users are happier with the app than the Android users based on the reviews. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the Apple version is quicker. There are also complaints that the user interface isn’t intuitive.
Second, this is going to be a con for anything that is an app and that is… well, it’s an app. On your phone. Which requires you to be glued to your phone at all times.
It can be super distracting if you open your phone to record your lunch and see that you have a text message and then somehow get sucked into the swirling vortex of your Facebook feed.
I think as we all find ourselves connected to literally everything around us via technology, we will eventually crave some time away from our devices.
Plus, recording things in an app may actually be more time-consuming than writing something down in a journal.
8. Symple Symptom Tracker
Pros: This app is suited for overall health and symptom tracking.
They have both a free and paid version. The free version limits how many symptoms and health factors you can track. The paid version upgrades you to unlimited. You can either choose what symptoms and factors you want to track from their list, or create customized ones unique to your situation.
The upgraded version also allows you to take up to 10 pictures a day, record time-stamped journal entries, secure your data with password protection, save your data to iCloud, and more.
Cons: This is only available for Apple iOS Devices.
Unless you have a tiny amount of things to track, the free version probably won’t fit your needs (however, it is nice that they offer a free version so that you can give the app a try before spending your money).
I do have to throw my personal opinion in here – I used this app and didn’t like it all that much. I don’t think the layout (user interface) fit the way my brain works. But, it does have over 100 reviews with a 4.4/5 star rating so obviously some people like it.
9. mySymptoms Food Diary and Symptom Tracker
Pros: This app is my fav! It’s set up in a very similar way to my own personal DIY health journal (which you can see here).
Basically, it’s an open book, and all you do is record factors (sleep, food, supplements/medications, exercise, etc.) as you go throughout your day. For example, if you wake up at 7:00am, you can record what time you woke up and sleep quality. Then, if you eat breakfast at 7:30am, you record what you ate. Exercise at 8:30am? Record that and so on.
This applies for symptoms too. So, if you notice that you have heartburn around 2:00pm, then you can record that along with its severity.
Here’s the cool part: the app then analyzes all your data and looks for patterns, trends, and associations between all your symptoms and other factors. SO COOL, right?! I’ve always done this on my own using Excel spreadsheets, but this app does it all for you.
And then you can print if off to show to your healthcare team.
Cons: It does cost money. Currently, the iOS version is $2.99 and the Android version is $4.49.
Given how much detail this app is capable of recording, you will probably have to give it a go for at least a month before you start seeing some solid data. On top of that, it uses statistical methods for analyzing your data, and sometimes those might lead you in the wrong direction. Only you know the deeper details of your diet and life – so be sure to also pay attention to any inklings you might have.
Also, on the note of how much data you’re able to record… it can be kind of exhausting to keep up with on a daily basis, especially if you’re trying to stay off your phone. This is the reason why I stopped using it and went back to a physical health journal.
In case you’re on the fence, know this…
Regardless of what you use, a health journal is one simple tool that holds a ton of power for recovering from autoimmune disease. The moment you identify your triggers, food sensitivities, and inflammatory patterns, YOU hold the power to taking back your health.
Give it a try. You won’t regret it.
Do you have any health journals you recommend? If so, then tell us in the comments below!
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!