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Keeping a Food Log
Have you ever thought about what - and how much - you eat and drink in a day, in a week? For too many of the world's population, the answer to this question is a painful and unjust reality of our global food distribution. For those who live in the affluent Western world, however, this revealing exercise could prompt us to change our tune if (when) we say "I eat very little refined sugar" - and to adjust our gratitude meter when the local market has run out of our favorite lemon basil but yet has five or more varieties of greens.
In the general sense, record-keeping has merit. We (should) track things like what we earn and spend - and many of us keep diaries or journals of events and activities. Their purpose can be intended for pleasure or need-to-know information: useful tools for review and direction. Most of us know at least one shutterbug who thinks, "...if I don't photograph "it", "it" didn't happen..." Well, things do happen regardless of whether or not we snap that picture. To sustain life we all consume food and drinks - most of us do so several times a day. Recorded or not, "it" happens.
This daily fueling routine is anything but a ho-hum occurrence. What we consume (and what our body absorbs - but that's a whole other post and more) isn't just to stop the gnawing sensation in our belly. Indicators we get - fluctuating energy levels, see-sawing moods, cravings declaring control, not to mention how our clothes fit and the number on our bathroom scale - are affected by all those items recorded (or not) on a food log.
It takes courage and commitment.
A (truthful) food log is a useful tool in my job as a holistic health coach, helping to assess nutritional imbalances, sports nutrition requirements, food sensitivities, allergies, etc.
I recently filled out one of these for myself because I was upping my running mileage and was curious how many calories/day I was consuming. I kept the log on the fridge so I wouldn't forget - if you're sensitive about curious onlookers you might want to find a different handy spot. To tell the truth, after the week was up I got busy doing work and living life (like running and taking grandkids to the beach) so the calorie calculations haven't yet been done. But the log has still been helpful: something I changed after that was to eat more daily servings of veggies than fruits, rather than the reverse. I still cringe when I see this entry: 15 (!) chocolate-covered almonds. I don't even like them and the sad part is that they had awful chocolate! Overall, my breakfasts were pretty 'strong' but I decided I have to be more intentional about enough nutrition for lunches that I pack along. Just a handful of fruit doesn't cut it.
Expect some temptations during your "Dear Food Diary" week
- to avoid or cut back on certain foods or drink.
- to change your mind about consuming something ("for this time") because of the hassle of having to remember to write it down ( the list is at home...
- to "fudge it" on serving sizes, or "forget" to include certain foods you consumed - even if you're the only one privy to the list.
Look for some clues from your Diary
- food choices and eating patterns you weren't aware of - e.g. an automatic default of diet pop accompanying any meal that has the same ingredients as pizza
- which foods - or combination of foods - leave you feeling yucky after you eat
- what kinds of foods/meals do or don't give you enough umph to do your next fitness workout
Seeing it all there in "black and white" can be surprising and frightening - but also enlightening.
If you're up to the challenge, print out the PDF file provided to get you started.
I dare you. Do the diary.