As a guru friend of mine said to me this morning, if I am going to lose weight and keep it off, its important for me to ‘write every bite, track every snack, journal every kernal, and scribble every nibble.’ Its just one of those things that I know about, but have had difficulty putting into practice lately. While food journalling may not be the most exciting thing in the world, I have several years of experience that shows me when I am doing it faithfully I am never surprised at how much I weigh (and I generally weigh close to where I like to maintain).
I’ve tried a number of different methods to keep track of my food intake, and I realize that, just like when choosing foods, some things work some of the time and other things work at other times, but there is no single thing that always works all of the time. I’ve tried almost everything, from small paper journals, to a bound diary, to a computer spreadsheet, to an online message board and even the back of an envelope (literally).
As I play with what works and what doesn’t work, I realize that the most important thing for me is to have all of the information about what I’m eating, but none of the self-judgements. Yeah, it bugs me to have to write ‘2nd bag of popcorn’ or ‘4 chocolate candies’ or ‘bag of chips (swiped from my partner).’ It can really feel disheartening to see those ill-advised choices in black and white.
Ironically, however, when I can see these things written down (or typed in, or checked off, etc.) it gives me knowledge, perspective and self-understanding. And not only that, when I am journalling, the amount of time and energy it actually takes to do so is only a tiny fraction of what I imagine it to be when I’m not doing it!
The other day a woman told me ‘I’m not doing this forever. There’s no way I’m doing this for the rest of my life.’ I understand where she’s coming from, and I respect her choice. For me personally, however, the trade-off between keeping a food diary versus being overweight is clear and compelling. After all, I’d rather have a 50 lb stack of daily food records, than a 50 lb stack of excess body fat.
If you journal, what works for you?