Day 107: The Benefits of Food Journaling

Happy Tuesday!

I missed posting yesterday but I am making up for it now. Honestly, I haven’t felt like writing much the last three days. So instead you got a wordless weekend. However the weekend was pretty stellar. On Saturday I took spin, had an interview with admissions from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, then went to Odessa for my friend’s birthday party.

You probably saw pictures from the lake Saturday.

Bridget lives on a beautiful little lake and we took advantage of her boat by going tubing! Tubing is so fun! My neck and arms are still sore. The cool unmarried people (haha) stayed the rest of the night and enjoyed ziti, cupcakes, and Bop It. Why are young married couples so boring? No offense. But they have 8pm bedtimes and don’t drink. It is a serious bummer.

Anyway. I had a great time then did absolutely nothing on Sunday except watch television, do yoga, and cook meals for the week. Usually after I hang out with a lot of people, I go into isolation mode and don’t talk to anybody for at least a day. I have a small social reserve. But when it is not used, I get antsy and lonely. I am weird.

So about that interview…

I am considering becoming a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in a year long online course. Since becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, I have been itching to learn more about health, fitness, and nutrition. I have considered becoming a Certified Group Fitness Instructor, taking ACE continuing education courses on group fitness or nutrition, and even going back to school to become a Registered Dietician. As much as I want to learn about nutrition, I do not want to take science prerequisites before even getting into an RD program. I also want something that emphasizes holistic health which looks at an individual’s lifestyle and behavior in relationship to their food choices.

So far IIN fits the bill. I listened in on a webinar they hosted with Dr. Mark Hyman MD and was so inspired to become part of a community that advocates food as medicine. One thing Dr. Hyman said that really resonated with me was that we should be “creating health” instead of “treating systems”. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a job that helps people “create health” in all aspects of their life to prevent the illnesses and diseases that are treated with medicine?

I am still figuring out if this program is right for me. But if I sign up by Friday I get a free IPad! Dang, their marketing department is goooood.

In other health news…

My sister came to me concerned that her eating habits were getting a little out of control. She is going on vacation and wanted to get back on track before then. I suggested that we both keep a food and fitness journal for two weeks before her vacation and share it with each other everyday. The idea is to become aware of what you are putting in your mouth and why. I suggested that we also write down how we feel after each meal, snack, or treat. This way you reflect on the physical and emotional reasons why you eat and also what foods keep you fueled well and satisfied.

After journaling for one week, I realized that I:

  1. Eat all the time
  2. Have the tendency to emotionally eat between lunch and dinner
  3. Eat similar things throughout the week (hello leftovers!)
  4. Love eating healthy fats and want them all. the time.
  5. Need to eat more vegetables
  6. Need to eat more protein after workouts
  7. Avoid overeating when sharing my journal with others

Overall, I feel much better physically than I have in a while. While I eat healthy and work out regularly, I have a tendency to overeat in certain situations then feel guilty. When I overeat, my stomach hurts, I become sluggish, and use exercise to mentally cancel out that eating episode. The irrational part of my mind becomes my enemy.

Food journaling with my sister has really benefitted my eating habits. I tried food journaling before but quickly lost interest when it was only me. Involving another person in the process really makes you accountable and aware of what you are actually eating and why.

Writing down how I feel after I eat helps me figure out what works for my body at certain times of the day. While eating a big salad for lunch is great and keeps me full, eating that same salad for dinner makes me uncomfortably full before bed. Now I know to avoid big fibrous meals before bed. I also know that a small nutrient-dense snack gives me the most energy for a workout and protein is the key to recovery.

Recording what I eat forces me to address the emotional aspect of hunger. It makes me aware if I am eating during an emotional time or wanting a snack too soon after a filling meal. In that case, I refill my water bottle and finish all 24 ounces of water. If I am still hungry after hydrating, I will eat that snack. If I am not hungry, I do not snack.

Finally, keeping this food journal has made me aware of the healthy choices I make everyday. It gives me a realistic picture of how much I eat everyday. Sometimes I eat a normal amount but feel like I ate too much since I spread my food out across the day. I am learning to cut myself some slack and trust my body. My body knows what and when to eat. Instead of feeling guilty about eating yet another snack before a workout, I am trusting my hunger and fueling my activity. This is especially enlightening since I workout and eat dinner so late. Of course I need a pre-workout snack at 6:30pm!

If you are at all interested in understanding your body and the food choices you make, I highly recommend starting a food journal. Invite a friend, family member, or coworker to join you! Remember, the purpose of sharing the food journal with others is not to judge other’s habits or struggles. The purpose is to support and hold each other accountable for the choices you make everyday.

So be smart and like Dr. Hyman says, “Create your health!” 

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