To most people, that may sound like a daunting task.
I get it, trust me, but I promise it’s worth it.
I used to think food journaling was some elaborate way to drive yourself crazy. Seriously, the idea of having to write down everything I ate and then have to face it?! Let’s just say it did not sound fun nor helpful, at all. So why did I give this a shot? Well, as an up and coming health and nutrition coach, food journaling can be an important way to see how clients are eating. Therefore, I felt it was only right to try this for myself, to get into a rhythm, to be able to speak from experience instead of asking someone to do something, I, myself, have never given second thought to.
So a little over a month ago, I started journaling my food intake, everyday. I was actually excited to see what I would learn about myself. I didn’t have any plans to change my food choices, at least for a month, to be able to see where my patterns lie and to get a general understanding of how I do without much focus on weightloss or any specific dieting techniques.
*Important* One of my main strategies going into this was to not obsess. This is crucial. Please use this activity as a curious way to learn more about yourself, not a way to become obsessed with everything you consume. I do not count calories, macros or even write exact weights of the food.
I went out and bought a really cute planner that had columns for each day with time slots. However, you can use literally any plain old notebook you have lying around. I suggest in that case to fold each page in half to create 2 columns and then on the left of each column, write down the time range you normally start to eat, by the hour, until about midnight. For example:
(If that seems too complicated, then just write down each meal with the time you consumed it).
During the day I write in my notepad on my phone after each meal or snack. At the end of the day I write all the meals and snacks, including any workouts I did that day. It’s been over a month now and I can say that I learned a lot and surprisingly, it’s not all about the food.
3 Reasons you should start writing a food journal:
1. Forgiving yourself. I try my best to eat healthy plant-based meals but I also have mini binges where I find myself emotionally eating (usually sweets). I am sure most you can relate with this cycle: emotionally eat something not-so-good for yourself -> Get more upset -> Do it again -> Get more upset, repeat. These little cycles can not only wreak havoc on our bodies but more importantly, our minds. We deserve better! Now, when I sit at the end of the night and write down everything, I see where I might of binged and forgive myself. I literally write ‘forgive yourself’ with some other self-love words I need in those moments. Journaling can also make you realize you’re not doing as bad as you think you are. This has not only given me a better relationship with myself but it has slowed down those emotional binges because I let. it. go.
2. Accountability. When I started writing a food journal I slowly started realizing how easily we can put blame on whatever happens outside of ourselves as the reason for why we may not feel good or be seeing results we want to see. Immediately I started seeing the correlation between how I felt emotionally and what I ate that day. It’s so easy to think ‘well my friend wanted takeout so that’s why I ate this’ or ‘I deserve this because I was stressed at work today’. When you physically write down your food choices for the day, it’s harder to put responsibility on anything else besides yourself. As you start journaling, it becomes easier to make better decisions because you start seeing your own patterns and bad habits. For example: After about 8 days straight of writing down ‘coffee’ at around 9am, I had to face that I was making an excuse every single morning that I ‘needed’ it to start my day. The truth is that coffee in moderation is not bad at all! It is when you rely on it and use it every single day that it can become unhealthy and cause adrenal fatigue, giving you the opposite affect over time; fatigue, anxiety, lack of focus, etc. So I made a change! I decided to only have coffee a max of 3x a week. Seeing that change develop through my journal has been so awesome and gave me a boost of confidence!
3. Decluttering your mind. I know a lot of us here care about what we eat. Sometimes so much so that it may take up too much space in our mind. We may be thinking, ‘did I have a lot of sugar today?’ or ‘why do I feel a lack of energy?’, our minds may then try to pick up on anything that may be the reason we are feeling a certain way. By writing down in a notes app on your phone during the day, then at night in your journal, it makes figuring out those questions a whole lot easier! I have found that I have more creative energy ever since starting my food journal. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true! I spill my food intake into a journal which makes me think about it less and able to analyze it more in a rational way. I have found that those 5 minutes I spend food journaling turned into a 30 minute routine I’ve developed that includes no phone, food journal, personal thought journal and reading. My favorite part of this whole process has been this new routine, it brings me a decluttering or a ‘spilling out’ of all the thoughts in my head; a calm before bed.
As much as you may think food journaling may drastically change the way you eat, that’s not necessarily true. For me, it’s been a slow, transformative process that I can feel is bringing true everlasting changes. I suggest everyone gives it a try!
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