Here we are, on my second day of blogging, and I am already going to tackle a very big topic in the health world: keeping a food diary. Experts and non-experts alike seem to rave on and on and on about how much a food diary has helped them become more aware of what they are eating and to lose weight. Well, let me tell you something, this was THE WORST possible strategy for becoming HEALTHY that I have ever tried. Before anyone attacks me, let me tell you why.
Many previously unhealthy people have said that once they began to write down every single thing they put in their mouth, they finally became aware of just how much they were really eating, and began to lower their food intake. While that is a great strategy for some people, for me, and probably many of you out there, I was already aware that I was eating unhealthy, I had already tried to stop doing so, therefore everything I wrote down only made me more aware of the fact that nothing was working! Trust me, when you are in high school and you weigh 40+ pounds more than your friends, you become VERY aware of what you eat, so a food diary was pointless for me.
That being said, I will now explain why the food diary actually made me worse off. Although not everyone mandates that one must also write the calories of their food in their diaries along with what the food is, that is the common strategy, and so that is what I began to do. After a week or so of counting every calorie and writing in that stupid, pink, leather-bound journal every hour, I finally realized how incredible unhappy I was. This is because I became overly obsessive. I am a naturally determined person anyway, so when I committ to something, I tend to go all out. When I was not even losing any weight writing tracking and writing my caloric intake, I finally realized that this habit made me very irritable. The worst part was it had a reverse effect for me; instead of becoming more aware and making healthier choices and moving on with my life, I was thinking about food ALL THE TIME, and I mean literally every second. There were several moments of inner turmoil while I would try to decide whether to lie to my journal and pretend I did not eat that extra brownie, and it is very unhealthy to lie to YOURSELF, so I just dropped the idea of writing my food in a journal altogether.
Counting calories aside, something that did really help me was writing in more of a “Food Feelings” diary every day when I woke up and before bed. In the morning, I would write my food/life goals for the day, and at night I would write whether or not I accomplished those goals, and how that made me feel. For example, if I knew I would be going to a party that day, in the morning I would tell myself to enjoy and savor the birthday cake, but stop eating it if it is not absolutely amazing. Then, when I got home, I would write that the cake WAS worth it, so I had 2 small pieces! :)
The most important thing to remember is that when you find yourself battling with your own conscience, it is time for a change. I am finally learning that there is no such thing as failing when you set long-term, milestone goals. Remember, life goes on after you overindulge!!