Keep a Different Type of Food Journal
The book “Thin for Life” chronicles the weight loss success stories from people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off. A common success strategy is keeping a food journal. The awareness, accountability and reality check of food journals work for many people, both for losing weight and maintaining it.
But for others, keeping a food journal feels punitive, which can be a deterrent to healthy habits. Luckily, food journaling doesn’t have to be all about portions, calories and wagging fingers. Consider keeping a different type of food journal that reveals the motivations for why you are eating in the first place.
The purpose of a food journal is to build awareness of habits and identify best opportunities to make a change in the least disruptive way possible. Take a few days to make note of the time you eat, why you decided to eat, how hungry you were and how you felt afterwards.
Awareness leads to behavior change
Recording the time will help you identify whether you are eating at regular intervals or going too long between meals. If you are a creature of habit, you may find that you eat at the same time of day regardless of hunger. If you are always in survival mode, you may be surprised to see how long it’s been since you last ate, which can disrupt your metabolism and sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Awareness leads to behavior change, so being honest about why you decided to eat can play a leading role in forming new habits. Each time you eat, ask yourself why you are making that decision. Ideally, the motivation is because you are hungry. Or, you may notice that you are eating because you are bored or anxious, it’s simply time to eat or because other people are eating. There is no need to feel bad about this; just observe that it is happening. You’ll change it later.
Pay attention to your hunger scale
Also, pay attention to how hungry you are on a scale of one to five, with one being not-at-all hungry and five meaning that your stomach is growling. Look for patterns throughout the day. If you are consistently eating at a level one or two, it may mean you are eating more than you need, or that your body’s hunger signals have been disrupted. You can’t change that unless you know it.
Have you noticed that we haven’t written down the food being eaten? Understanding the motivation and patterns of your decisions to eat can create an environment where making better food and portion choices is a lot easier. You have to prime the walls before you can paint.
Before you dive into another diet, take a step back and get to know your patterns and motivations!