Have you ever kept a food journal? It's time to get excited about starting one!
Jotting down everything you eat throughout the day can unlock so many clues as to what foods work best for you, and what foods may be negatively affecting you without you even realizing. It can be as simple as carrying a small notebook around in your purse, or even as quick as downloading a "food journaling" app on your phone to keep track. There are many great ones to choose from if you search in your phone's app store.
Here's what you'll discover about yourself when you start keeping a food journal.
You'll solve that mysterious question, "Why do I eat if I'm not hungry?"
To be successful at food journaling, you need to get to the root of why you're eating what you're eating, and why you're even eating at all. When you jot down all the foods you eat, make sure you're writing down the times, how hungry you are before eating it, and how full you feel afterward. What you'll discover is very telling. Many people spot the pattern that they eat on cue even when not hungry due to some other stimulus, like watching TV. When you catch that clue, you can change your behavior and stop the habit in its tracks.
You'll see how much you're actually eating. It's not solely about the food on your plate. Eating can sometimes be a mindless activity, which is why food journaling helps bring you back into mindfulness when eating. Take note of your meals, not just what you fill your plate with but how much of it. Merely writing "veggie stir fry" won't give you any clues later, especially if you neglected to write down that you ate two bowls full.
You'll see how fast you eat. Sometimes, eating too quickly can be the culprit in all of your food feelings. Either it leads to digestive woes (hello, heartburn!) or you feel mostly unsatisfied because you've wolfed down your food and those you're dining with are still eating. By recognizing this pattern through your food journaling, you'll be able to take better control.
You'll discover how you really feel when you eat what you eat
After hearing many stories from clients, I've realized we choose what to eat based on what we like and seldom based on how it makes us feel. This is a crucial part of food journaling, to see on paper how we're choosing to eat things that make us feel bad -- and we know they will make us feel bad. For example, headaches seem to be a part of life, but they're so often caused by foods we're consuming, and we're not realizing the connection. So taking note of how you feel after eating certain foods, and keeping this laid out in your food journal, will help you see patterns, you may be completely unaware of at this moment. After you eat, think about if you feel refreshed and energetic, unmotivated and fatigued, uncomfortable in any way? Taking notes on how the food you eat impacts your life will help you make better choices.
Perception is a huge factor in living a balanced, healthy life. You might very well think you're on the right track, but keeping a food journal will show you where you're straying and where any unseen harmful patterns are hiding. Make the extra effort to be more "mindfull" and "eat with intention"...a year from now you will be glad you took on a new healthy habit.
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