Aware Eating, or mindful eating, is a term often thrown around these days. It sounds pretty out there, and for people who eat chia seeds and drink ginger shots (uh, ick!), but the truth is that food journaling works. And it’s the first step to making changes for healthier eating habits. How you journal though can make all the difference, and determine best success.
“When I meet with new clients, my first piece of advice is always to start a food journal,” said Rachele Marsh, private OC trainer and resident OC Mom Magazine ‘Body Whisperer.’ “I often get a subliminal eyeroll when I ask people to journal. I get it; people are busy—they’re thinking: ‘For the love, Rachele, the paper, the pen, the remembering, I’m busy enough.’ But they do it, and it works. And it changes habits, which is the hardest thing to change.”
(One look at Rachele’s body quickly conveys that she probably knows a thing or two about what works.)
Now if you’re like most, you’ll get a notebook and (reluctantly) start the journaling. Then you’ll stop. Then you’ll start, then … This is exactly what I did. I stopped when I didn’t want to write down that I just had pizza, chocolate, wine and chips.
For me, things came to a head over the holidays when Rachele was keeping me accountable, checked in and asked about the journaling.
*GULP!* “What is she psychic?” I thought. She always knew when I stopped. “I was red-hot,” I said. “Then I started packing for my trip, and I slipped, and I slipped again yesterday when I got to town. Restarting today. Right now. The holiday temptations! Writing it all down today will be important! ”
Her response was the game changer.
“Food journaling isn’t about guilt and shame,” she told me. “It is just about being aware. You should absolutely enjoy the holidays! Seriously! But the journal just gives you the opportunity to ask yourself if you really want it. And if the answer is yes, then enjoy it, and enjoy yourself. Remember, you are the only one that is reading this. I am not a sadist! I don’t want to know how many handfuls of this or that you had! And you are not going to continue and maintain weight loss if you deprive yourself.”
With that, I gave an exhale, enjoyed myself a little more. I realized I didn’t have to be a slave to my “judgy” journal.
“It’s really ok to cheat,” she explained. “It’s not about depriving yourself. Everyone has pitfalls: parties, holidays, events, stress, cravings; and people should be ok with those. Just write it down.”
Eventually, you’ll also come to understand your patterns, and why you do what you do (more on that in a future column though). For now, just start a food journal today. You’ll be glad you did.
Rachele’s Insights to Food Journaling:
1. You’ll become conditioned to monitor your own nutrition. The goal is for it all to become natural to you.
2. You’ll see a difference in how you’re eating, just by journaling.
3. When journaling, you can cheat (don’t worry), enjoy life, JUST WRITE IT ALL DOWN.