It has been gradual. It has been subtle. It has gone unnoticed. But it has finally caught up to me. It is now apparent… I can’t keep eating like this. It is time to start writing it all down again. A few years ago, when I first started my 9 Kid Fitness website, I decided I needed to invest in my diet and I hired an online nutritionist to help me get back on track. It wasn’t that I was a junk foodie. In fact, I have always prided myself on my self-control. However, I wanted to see what I could do to feel better and to perform better. I knew that my nutrition could be improved, but I wasn’t exactly sure how.
Unfortunately, I would not recommend an online nutritionist unless you know exactly what you are getting for your money, and I didn’t get much help in the end. The one thing I did learn through the process was the benefit of a food journal. I wrote down what I ate for five days in a row. For the first few days, I tried to eat well, so that I could write down only healthy foods. But then I realized how silly that was since I was paying someone to help me and I wasn’t being honest with myself. So I told myself not think about the journal. Just to remember to write down what I ate. After all, who was I trying to fool? I decided if I wanted to make even small changes, I had to be honest.
The exercise of writing down what we eat is a good one for many reasons. First of all, it is a window into what we are feeding our bodies. I realized that I believed I was much healthier than I actually was. I was drinking a lot of diet soda then, yet I told myself that it wasn’t much because it was only with dinner. When I looked at the whole day, however, I saw that I wasn’t drinking enough water. I had coffee in the morning, some water mid-day, and soda in the evening. I was surprised at how little water I was actually drinking.
The same thing happened with sweets. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but told myself it wasn’t a big deal. When I saw how much sugar I was eating during the course of a week, I was amazed. A cookie here, a Twix bar there…it added up. If I hadn’t written it down and become acutely aware of what I was feeding myself, I would have continued to believe I was a healthy eater. I wasn’t.
It is that time again. I have grown lax in my habits and have slowly been lured back into believing I am a healthy eater when in reality, I’m not. It’s time to get out the journal, and begin to write it all down again. Research has proven that food journals help with weight loss. While I am not looking to lose weight, I know that healthier eating means I feel better. When I feel better, I act better. I am a better mom. A better wife. A better daughter. A better friend. Who doesn’t want to be better?
It is not easy writing down what you eat. It takes diligence, honesty, and commitment to the process. In the end, though, the results can be surprising (as they usually are for me), and instrumental. According to a study published online last month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, simple habits, like journaling, may help with weight loss. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle set out to determine whether certain behaviors were associated with sticking to a diet. They monitored 123 overweight, postmenopausal women participating in a year-long weight loss program, examining their meal patterns, food intake, and habits such as food journaling. On average, the women lost about 10 percent of their total body weight, but women who kept food journals lost about six pounds more than those who did not.
If, like me, you have allowed yourself to get a little lazy with nutritional decisions, try writing down what you eat for at least five days. Then take an honest look at what you see. Most of us don’t have to pay a nutritionist to recognize where we can improve…