How to get started or keep the food journaling going:
- Know why food journaling helps: it brings organisation and perspective to which the brain cannot do on its own
- Detach the food journal from your health goal, start with tracking as the only goal.
- At first, don’t focus on what you want to change in your food protocol, this will come naturally as you gain insight.
- Awareness of your eating brings up uncomfortable feelings (which are there regardless of the journal) – being aware helps you gain control over it.
Don’t like food journaling? Hasn’t worked?
So, why is it still the most common advice out there?
That’s a very good question and one worth answering because if we don’t know ‘why’ we’re doing something, then it won’t stick. Doing it just because someone told you it’s an effective way to lose weight won’t make it a successful habit.
I’ve got the theory broken down along with my experience in doing it for almost two years. I’ll break it down.
Your brain is a mess when it comes to anything to do with thinking. Which is what we spend a lot of time doing (something like 40,000 thoughts per day – mostly unconscious).
Our brains don’t come with a Marie Kondo organisational system. We have to organise it ourselves. And the only way to do that is to write things down. This gets it out of our heads and in front of our eyes (instead of behind them), which gives us perspective – literally and figuratively.
Organisation and perspective are the two amazing things we automatically gain from a simple task. That’s why we have ‘to do’ lists, grocery lists and calendars, etc. Simple and still effective.
The purpose of food journaling is the same – organisation and perspective. But why it becomes difficult to continue doing so is because two things get in the way.
One of the biggest reasons why food journaling comes to a halt before it gets started is because we try to make it into something more than it needs to be – especially when starting out.
We make it mean it’s the ‘way’ to lose weight, to get healthy. And so we want to have that journal be reflective of our goal. But in the beginning (or even in the middle) journaling is really about organising your mind and gaining perspective. That’s it.
Try detaching your food diary from your health goal – in the beginning. In fact, I suggest you start food journaling even before you know your goal. If you feel jumbled in your health goals like weight, cholesterol, intolerances etc. start with tracking what you currently eat. That’s it.
Don’t focus on what you need to change in your diet before you have any information. Especially if you feel like you don’t know where to begin. I didn’t.
In an effort to be ‘healthier’ I started writing down what I ate, as is. I didn’t change anything. The only ‘change’ that happened is that I was now aware of what I was actually putting into my body, instead of having some vague idea.
The second obstacle is tied to the first one. Our thoughts about our eating start to come up (become conscious) because now we’re ‘forced’ to think about it in order to write it down. Every lick and bite that we take, we become aware of it.
And for me, the thoughts were not something I wanted to contend with. But guess what, those thoughts are there whether we’re aware or not – food journal or not. There’s no power to change a habit in the realm of the unconscious. I promise it doesn’t work.
Usually, there’s a lot of bad feelings that come up, especially when we need to write down the number of cookies we ate that we didn’t want to. We either get to decide between bad feelings with the journal or bad feelings without the journal. Either way, bad feelings will still be there. But the journal gives us information that will help you gain control and change your food habit which will then help you get the result you want.
Putting it on paper, frees it and then allows you to take back your control.
Consider for a moment all the times you thought about life having reached your health goal. What if you could build those moments with each moment you take to jot down your eating?
One response to “Getting Started with Food Journaling”
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