7 min 56 sec

Doctor’s Diagnosis Becomes Food Diary Side Hustle

A chronic illness diagnosis leads to the “write” side hustle for a full-time communications manager in the UK.
International Manufacturing Niche Ideas Product

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What It's About

A personalized food diary to keep track of sensitivities.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Research
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

A key point from this story: Laura searched high and low for a journal, but every food journal was intended for weight loss—not chronic illnesses.

Finding gaps in the industry like this is how so many great side hustles start out! Is there something you use that's okay, but could be improved? It could make for a great side hustle.

Fun Fact

The word ‘colygraphia’ means “writer’s block.” Rumour has it that when Dr. Seuss had colygraphia, he would go to a secret closet in his house that was filled with hundreds of hats and wear them until he was re-inspired to write.

Notes from Chris

Episode 552

According to science, writing things down is a highly-effective way to remember both day-to-day and big life events. While it might seem old school, it’s a method that is tried-and-true. This method applies as well to health issues like food sensitivities. That’s why Laura Mulkerne’s doctor recommended that she start keeping a food diary when she was diagnosed with IBS and Coeliac disease in 2016.

The full-time communications manager based in the UK had been feeling off for years, but could never pinpoint what, exactly, was the cause. When her doctor told her she had both IBS and Coeliac, Laura wasn’t totally surprised.

But the diagnoses didn’t answer all her problems, and Laura’s doctor still told her to keep a daily food journal that would help her track her meals and the corresponding symptoms that followed them, too. She needed to track her daily meals, the times she ate, and portion sizes to figure out exactly what triggered her symptoms.

If it sounds almost like detective work, that’s because Laura says it is!

Laura searched high and low for a journal that would help her keep track of everything she needed, but it seemed like every food journal was intended for weight loss—not chronic illnesses. Apps were no help either, for much the same reason. Not only were they also geared toward weight loss, Laura found them clunky and difficult to use.

Laura needed something better than an ill-suited journal or an annoying app, so she created her own system in a notebook as a tool to help her get better, alongside her appointments with doctors and nutritionists. As the days turned into months, Laura got tired of drawing out the pages every day and decided to create her own, proper diary. One night, as she stayed up late playing around with templates and formatting, an idea occurred to her. Laura thought that maybe, just maybe, she couldn’t be the only person who needed a food journal to keep track of their chronic illness.

If her notebook format worked for her, it might work for other people too, especially since one in five people have IBS in the United Kingdom. And there are even more in the U.S.—45 million people, approximately. But Laura knew there were more chronic illnesses that needed food monitoring than IBS. The more she thought about it, the more she knew she needed to create this for people other than just herself.

But first, Laura had to fine-tune this journal. Her system worked for her, but if the food diary was going to help other people it needed to take everything into account.

After about 18 months of side hustling, The Food Diary Co. now brings in about £1,000 ($1,300) per month, and that figure is continuing to grow. Laura credits her side hustle success to her Instagram following, organic search traffic, and online coverage traffic from sources like Buzzfeed and relevant bloggers.

Laura is ready to turn the next page on her side hustle and is working on growing it even more by building a new website and investing more time in her marketing strategy. While she doesn’t have plans to turn her side hustle into her full-time job just yet, she does look forward to the day when she has enough additional income to pay for a holiday abroad.. or two. From the sounds of it, it seems like Laura is on the write track.


  • The Food Diary Co.: You can learn an awful lot about yourself and your body tracking what you eat. If you're interested in what keeping a food diary can tell you, learn more over on Laura's website!

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"My first sale was so exciting! The business is mainly online, so getting that little email notification was so fun. I still feel inordinately pleased now when I open my email and see orders coming in!"
—Laura Mulkerne #SideHustleSchool

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Chris Guillebeau