Why Keeping a Journal on Days that You Aren't Eating as Healthy is More Important than Days You Are
Why is it important to do food journals? Because it allows us to see our true intake of food, have an understanding of our eating patterns and look at the environmental or emotional triggers that may be affecting our eating habits. By knowing what these are, we can start to see patterns or habits. By knowing what these patterns and habits are, we can start to make plans for changes. In essence, it gives us a snapshot of what we may be doing each week that may be stopping us from healthy choices. So it is good to look at and have a bit of reality check sometimes.
AND YET.... most people do not fill in their food diaries on days in which they are not following their plans and not making healthy choices. Why? Well let's look at some of the reasons:
We all have done it when we are doing food journals. We have a meal with a lot of calories or we have calorie ridden snacks and we stop adding food our our food journal. There are many reasons this can happen. Let's look at this and see how we may be able to fix this so we can stop patterns that are inhibiting our progress in lifestyle changes.
THE FEAR OF FAILURE
Most human being don't like to think of themselves of failing. So we love to ignore it. Just ate a whole huge bag of potato chips? But you feel guilty, right? So, you don't put it in the food journal. Next thing you know, you've stopped filling it in for the day. Why do we do this? Well, we don't want to face the fact that we may have made bad choices for the day.
If you look at successful people in life, you will see that they make a lot of mistakes before they become a success in whatever they have become successful at, whether it is career, love and other parts of their life. The difference is, that they pick up from where they failed, get back up and try again. Well, the same is for healthy eating habits. We all make mistakes and we need to change our attitude and relationship towards food. Instead of looking at it as "I am failing," we should look at that day, figure out how we could have made better choices and make a plan for next time you see yourself going down that road to prevent it from not being as many calories. Yes, you heard me.... not saying "I can't do this again" but instead... "next time I will do a bit better." By looking that day over and seeing the real affect of intake, we can plan the rest of the week accordingly and maybe get in a bit of extra exercise or eat a little bit less on other days that makes it so that one day is not so impactful on our overall goals.
Embrace the failure as something positive and learn from it. grow from it and accept it. People who embrace failure as a learning moment, tend to have more success, even if they do it again. In the long run, it sometimes takes making the same mistakes several times before getting a new habit or outlook down.
THE UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
One of the reason's why we don't write in journals is because of and unhealthy relationship with food. As we are growing up, we start to determine are relationship with food. When we hurt ourselves our parents may give us a piece of candy to make us feel better. We associate food with happy events like birthdays and celebrations. If we were sad, grandma might have taken us out for ice cream to make us fell better. These are patterns we learn as children. But sometimes they start to translate into adulthood. We are stressed so we eat to feel better. We are sad so we eat to feel better. The list goes on.
By writing in our journal our moods and feelings when we are eating unhealthy, we can start to see patterns emerge. We cannot come up with techniques to overcome this if we do not take a look at what is happening in the first place. Do you overindulge when you go out with friends because you feel left out if you don't? Is it because you have been lonely all week and you want to feel better? Is it because you are bored and have nothing to do? Is it because you are stressed at work and that extra food makes it easier in the moment because it is soothing? These are things we need to look at so we can start coming up with other solutions to stop repeating the pattern.
A good relationship with food is started by making better healthy choices but also being okay with having an "unhealthy" meal every once in awhile and not getting upsetting about it. THAT is a good relationship. Obsessing about food isn't healthy either.
Many of of us think that change should happen overnight and that frustration comes out in different ways. Changing eating patterns is a slow process and doesn't happen overnight. We get impatient and want to change everything right away but get overwhelmed by doing this.
Pick one thing out when you had that unhealthy day and make a small change. Get that habit down and then work on another a couple weeks later. Over 6 months, when done slowly, you will see a much easier transition and less stress in you goals. Don't try to fix everything overnight. For example, instead of getting rid of the huge bowl of sugary breakfast cereal in the morning, try reducing the amount of cereal and adding a boiled egg in as well. Transition slowly. Don't revamp you diet based on one day. Use that day to make a plan that you can do over time.
READINESS FOR CHANGE
Another reason that we sometimes don't write it down is because we truly are not quite ready to make a change. That's okay. Maybe you are not there yet and pushing yourself into doing something your not ready for usually doesn't work out. If you are not there, you are not there. That's okay. You need to be prepared to actually take action. You may not be there today, you may not be there tomorrow or next month, but realizing it is the first step and looking at the reason's why is helpful.
If you find you really aren't ready for a change in eating habits, maybe look at other ways to bring health in you life like exercising, stress management, self-care. And when you are ready, then you can make the next step.
THE BIG PICTURE
We, as human beings, are a bit scared of change? Why? Because it is uncomfortable and sometimes potentially painful. Sometimes this means looking at parts of us we really don't want to think about. Don't look at change as a punishment but instead as a way of moving forward and growing. Ignoring the poor choices in life is not taking responsibility for ourselves... and not learning to make better ones. You have to take back your ability to respond to events and issues. It's about self-efficacy.
Change is uncomfortable. If change of your diet is scary, try changing other things first so you can get used to doing new things. Take a class, learn a language, join a gym. Try new things elsewhere and you may find confidence enough to work on the eating patterns. Discovering new passions and abilities helps give us confidence so when we tackle difficult eating habits we have more confidence to do it.