If you have ever tried dieting in the past, it is likely you have attempted at some point to keep a food journal. In theory, this is a good way to hold yourself accountable for the food you’re eating, to notice when you may overeat, and to gauge any other patterns and habits that perhaps you weren’t previously aware of. However like many things associated with dieting, it is hard to sustain in a real life situation for a long period of time.
While journaling can alert you to patterns, it can also cause you to become a little too obsessive over the food you are eating. It can also create feelings of guilt when you look back to what you ate, or start a pattern of rationalizing about what you ate. I would like to offer a new spin on the food journal that I think will help you with your intuitive and mindful eating journey.
Instead of chronicling every bite you eat, start journaling how you feel before and after you eat. Writing down your feelings before you eat something will help you to tune into your hunger level and the reason you are eating. You will be able to see if you are “famished” and recognize that maybe you waited too long to eat. The pause to journal these feelings also gives you a moment to make a decision about what you want to eat. It can help keep you from making an impulsive choice that perhaps is not the best for your health, or not really what you want to be eating at the moment.
If you journal how you feel after you eat, it can help you get a sense of your fullness level. You will be more aware of whether you ate too much or stopped when you had just enough. Writing down your feelings after you eat will help you learn the reasons why you might have finished what was on your plate even though you identified you were satisfied way before the plate was empty.
Journaling can definitely be used to help you stay healthy, but you’re better off using it to truly get to know you and your eating habits, rather than just writing down the details of the actual food you put into your mouth. If you journal properly, you’ll get “write” to fixing some of your unhealthy habits, and be on the right track to wellness!
Your turn to take action: Do you keep a traditional food diary or a food feelings journal? How does this help you on your journey toward intuitive eating?