Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Food Journaling

Summer is at an end and the clouds are here but that doesn't mean you don't want to keep that summer body.  Fall and winter bring parties and holidays as well as heavy and sweet foods.  What to do??

Take up food journaling!  Eating is a habit and for some individuals a good habit (with good food choices) and others a bad habit (with bad food choices).

Journal contents:
  1. Time of meal/snack/drink
  2. What you are eating and how much (think portion control with nutritionally dense food rather than calories or points)
  3. What you are drinking and how much (this includes water, sweet drinks, caffeine, alcohol and soda)
  4. Amount of exercise
  5. How you feel at the end of the day emotionally and physically
  6. How you would like to improve tomorrow
  7. Amount of restful sleep (continuous sleep; record if you are tossing and turning)
Is food journaling worth the time?:
  • Accountability- this helps you put that extra cookie down; forcing you to really decide if you need it.
  • Unhealthy patterns and habits- many of us eat in front of the TV, force food down while working on the computer, scarf those tortilla chips and salsa over a table with friends without paying attention to what we are doing, EATING.
  • Lack of fluids- sometimes we feel hungry when we truly are dehydrated.  Pay attention to the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume; each one of those removes that much water from your body.
  • Feelings- this part is so important because so many of us are emotional eaters and don't want to admit it.  Journaling will help you see that.  Once you do, start creating a "safety net"- things to do (other than reaching for the chocolate bar or burger) when you feel stressed, upset, sad, alone, or even happy!
  • Sleep- not getting adequate sleep causes most of us to ingest more sugary carbs or caffeine just to keep those eyes open, make the time (no more- I will sleep when I die).  Some of us struggle with sleep because of what we eat before bed- eating too late, too heavy, too many carbohydrates, too much sugar,  too much caffeine?
  • Nutrition that fits for you- journaling will help you find the eating patterns and habits that work best for your body.  Every individual is different externally and internally; some people operate best on a higher complex carbohydrate diet, others higher protein diet.  Weigh yourself once week; same time, same scale, same clothing. 
After a month go through the journal and find the patterns of eating that work best for you; the days you feel best emotionally and physically.  Think of your diet journal as a means of experimentation with recorded results...obviously searching for the strongest results!  Once you find those results you can let go of the journal; but don't be afraid to begin again if you begin to feel of track....remember life happens and sometimes we need those guidelines to keep us on track.

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