What it is, how to do it and why you need to start today!
We all know the importance that food plays on our health. In fact it feels like we are constantly being bombarded with the latest trends and fads. It all becomes so confusing and it is hard to keep up. Keto diet is best (wait, isn’t that just the Atkins diet with a new outfit?) Paleo diet is best, (why do I want to eat like a caveman?) Apple Cider vinegar diet (are you *&^#ing kidding me?) No carb, low carb, only carb! It becomes information overload and we tend to just turn it off and forget about it all. The thing is, that every person’s body is different. Meaning, that there is no diet or food trend that will work for everyone. In fact some may be harmful to certain people. This information can be overwhelming and causes us to wonder what we can do to navigate the world of food in a way that works for our own body? There is an answer and it is fairly simple. Food Journaling. In this article we take a look at what exactly food journaling is, how to properly do it and why you need to start doing it today.
Most of us at one point in our lives have kept track of our calorie intake. Whether it was to aid us in losing weight or to make sure we were eating enough for our work out plan, counting calories is not a new concept. Keeping track of every calorie that we ingest can become dull, tedious and take the enjoyment out of eating. Food journaling is so much more than keeping track of your daily calories. In fact you don’t have to count calories at all. For food journaling you keep track of what you eat but you also make note of;
- The time of day. Did you skip breakfast and grab a donut mid morning?
- The environment. Was it on the run, at your desk, at a social event?
- Your thoughts, feelings and emotions before & after eating. Were you bloated, did it make you feel sluggish, did you feel guilty, were you bored?
Food journaling is not about judgment or feeling guilty or ashamed, it is about becoming aware of your relationship with food. You will start to see personal eating habits and patterns. Like eating a bowl of chips when you watch t.v at the end of the day, not because you are hungry but because you associate it with relaxing. By keeping track of what you are putting in your body and how you feel when you do it, it will help you identify food allergies and sensitivities, inflammation triggers and emotional eating patterns. It will spotlight how work, stress or certain life situations affect your food choices. Once you begin to see the patterns, you can use your journal to support change. It will help to reinforce your new healthy habits and keep you focused on long term change.
A lot of time people know what to do in order to eat better, but it’s about making the changes that will stick around for a long time. Changes that not only last a few weeks but that last a lifetime. Food journaling is an excellent place to start to be aware of the food that you are eating. It will teach you what your habits are, the choices that you are making, how those choices made you feel and what the results are.
“It’s all about the awareness of what you are putting in your body, “ says nutritionist Natalie Thomas.
“It is a mindset switch. What are we eating, why are we eating it, what is it doing to our body?”
She calls it intuitive eating. It is about making choices and being aware of our food. Understanding why we are eating in an aware state. Thomas also cautions not to feel guilty for a choice that was made in an aware state.
“ If you are at a birthday party and love cake and there is a piece of white cake with canned icing on it and you eat it, it is ok as long as you are making a choice and not doing it unconsciously.”
It really is about creating a conscious relationship with your food. Our lives seem to continuously be getting busier and busier and eating becomes just one more thing that we have to do to get through the day and oftentimes we do it unconsciously. Barely aware of what we are eating. However what we are putting into our body greatly affects not only our physical health, but our mental and emotional health as well. By making a small amount of time to bring awareness to our eating now, it could add many healthy years to our lives.
Food journaling is not something that you need to do all the time. It is not about obsessing over food. It is simply about being aware and making choices. It is recommended to do it for a week to start. If you do it right, you’ll come away with a fuller understanding of yourself and some insight into eating better. You will see the choices that you have made and be able to make new, healthier choices going forward.
As human beings we are constantly growing, changing and transforming and so is our nutrition. The food that made us feel good in our 20’s may no longer have the same effect in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The nutrition you need will change as your body does, age, children, illness all change your body and what you need from your food. This is why it is important to consistently incorporate food journaling into our lives. After your first time food journaling it is a good practice if you can continue to do it for the first 3 days of each month. This helps to reset you for the month ahead. It shows you where you may be falling back into old habits and how well you are doing with the new ones that you have created. If you truly feel that you could not possibly make the time to write all of this down, then try a video journal. Each time you eat something, grab your phone and record a short entry: Ate a bag of chips at 2:00pm because I skipped breakfast and lunch to prepare a presentation and just needed to eat something. Hearing the journal entry back in your own voice can be even more impactful in seeing how the choices you made affect your health.
Food journaling is not just another trend in the vast sea of diet fads. This is research about your relationship with food. It is personal and specific to your body. It is creating and cultivating an awareness around each choice that we make with the food that we are putting into our bodies. When we can stop habitually reaching for something and begin to ask why am I eating this, how will it make me feel? We ignite the process of change. For this first time it is not just about what we are eating, but why and how we are eating it. This awareness flips the mental switch in creating lasting change in your relationship with food. It will not just be another food thing that you true but a lasting mindset change on the way you look at food.