Jane's "Journal" Jottings

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 10/28/2013

To Journal or not to Journal

Has anyone ever had that terrible guilty feeling after eating a not so healthy food?  I think as a dietitian I feel double the guilt.  Let’s say I had a chocolate bar, which happens on occasion.  First, I know that really wasn’t a healthy choice (especially with my background and education!).  Secondly, I feel like a hypocrite because I tell people all the time not to eat those types of foods.  Then, I remind myself that we do not need to be perfect.  An occasional treat is not the problem.  The problem is when the treats become a regular habit and a daily choice. 

How do you know if you are eating too much junk food?  The best thing to do is start food journaling.  A food journal is by no means a punishment.  Journaling is a tool for self discovery.  You are basically researching your relationship with food.  The more detail you write down, the more you discover about your mind/body connection!

There are different reasons why someone might journal.  Why journal?

·         You’re off track

·         Helps you see where your calories are coming (i.e. - beverages, snacks or that candy bar I mentioned) 

·         Reveals patterns of overeating

·         Identifies triggers to avoid

·         Gives a good picture of how nutritious your diet is

·         Helps you track carbohydrates for diabetes or protein to make sure you are getting enough or even fiber for constipation

·         Helps cut back on mindless munching

·         Portions tell us how the band is functioning

·         Helps you trim unnecessary calories

There are a few obstacles to journaling.  Some people feel ashamed of eating habits as I noted with my chocolate bar!  Journaling makes you admit to yourself what you actually are eating.  Some people don’t want to journal because they feel hopeless in their pursuit of weight loss and don’t feel like a journal will do anything to help them get out of the rut.  Some just feel bad when they slip up.  Remember, no one is perfect. 

There are many different sites as you would have figured out at our last support group.  Shanna gave an excellent demonstration of myfitnesspal.com.  Thank you Shanna.  Other popular sites include:  MyFoodDiary.com, fitday.com, loseit.com, sparkpeople.com, fitclick.com, my-calorie-counter.com and mynetdiary.com.  Try these sites out on your phone, ipad or computer at home.

Whether you record using the latest technology or a piece of paper, keep the following tips in mind.  Record absolutely everything you eat and drink including indulges and binge episodes too.  Record the extras as this might help you trim the unneeded calories.  Cut 150 calories per day and you could lose 15-18 pounds per year.  Record intake at the time of consumption.  However, if this becomes too difficult you can always record at the end of the night too.  This method doesn’t have as much as a powerful punch nor do patients tend to be as accurate, but it is certainly better than not journaling at all.  Be honest with yourself.  Review your food records and track any trends. 

One of my favorite methods of food journaling is reverse journaling. This is basically logging the uneaten.  Plan your day’s intake in advance.  Check off what you ate and add in any additions.  Document the foods you turned down and give yourself a pat on the back!  Compare the two lists.  Did you eat more, less, differently, skip meals or even just forget to eat? 

Journals do work.  They are challenging and time consuming, but if done right can be effective.  You don’t have to do them on-going although some people do find benefit from that.  The journals will tell you how food affects you in terms of being tired, satisfied or even a possible headache.  Journals keep you responsible for what you eat.  They help you see the quality of your diet and not just the calories.  Journals help you look back and see the progress in your food choices.  You’ll eventually start to see donuts become apples right before your very eyes. 

You don’t have to share your journal.  You can do them for your own benefit.  I would also be happy to take a peak and provide some feedback.  Feel free to e-mail me your journal at janesylvestre@ massweightloss.com anytime. 

So, hang in there, journal to research your relationship with food and follow any trends you can see to help you improve your diet.       Happy journaling,  Jane

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