Nutritionists say that writing down what you eat in a food journal is supposed to help you to be more mindful of your food habits and make healthy changes. I’ve learned that unless you do your food tracking holding onto a gentle non-judgmental mindset, it can be a slippery slope to your next binge. Find out how you can make a food journal work for you.
Nutritionists say that writing down what you eat in a food journal is supposed to help you to be more mindful of your food habits and make healthy changes. I’ve learned that unless you do your food tracking holding onto a gentle non-judgmental mindset, and deal proactively with your stress, scrutinizing what you’re eating can be a slippery slope to your next binge.
If you’ve ever been on a diet or food plan, you’re probably no stranger to the concept of keeping a food journal. Perhaps like me, just the mere thought of recording everything that passes your lips leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. After all when you think about all the times that you see your binges written down in black and white, it’s enough to turn the most confident person to feeling like a sack of shame.
As an emotional eater, I’ve had tremendous conflicts around keeping food journals and tracking my eating. I tracked my food intake for years as a member of the Weight Watchers program. Looking back in retrospect I now realize why I stopped journaling when my eating went off the rails.
My Path to Making Peace with Food
As a diet survivor, I’ve always associated feeling ashamed and guilty of eating anything that was not on my food plan. It took me nearly 30 years of enduring yo-yo dieting to finally reach my goal weight. By year 5 of maintaining my goal weight of 165 pounds, I was overwhelmed with the pain and struggle and more than ready to stop the insanity of watching my weight. I was tired of the constant games with food and spending so much time focusing on dieting.
In 2006 I stopped dieting cold turkey and swore that I’d never go back. A friend of mine named Doc Frost was in the process of retiring from a 25 year career as a therapist at an eating disorder center in Orem, Utah. He told me about a process of non-diet weight control called intuitive eating that was really effective in helping his patients handle their eating addictions.
He explained that by learning how to eat in response to satisfying my body’s physiological hunger, my appetite would diminish and my body eventually would find its way back to my normal weight. To facilitate the process of my learning, he suggested that I read several books on the topic of intuitive eating.
For the next several years I took a pack your pantry approach to food and filled my house with goodies of all kinds. From the cabinets in the pantry to the spare freezer in the garage, I had every kind of food imaginable. Nothing was restricted or banned and I ate as much or as little as I wanted. Using the basic principles of intuitive eating, of
Eat what you want
Eat when you are hungry
Stop before you get too full
I grew incredibly discriminating and became a picky eater.
It felt amazing to know that I could trust myself around all the foods I loved. I gave myself permission to eat anything, anytime and I noticed a definite change in my eating habits. I didn’t feel enslaved by food anymore. I could live happily amongst temptation and open a bag of chips or eat a cookie and put the rest of the bag away, ultimately forgetting all about them and tossing the rest in the garbage. This new sense of intuitive self-control was so liberating. It gave me the most amazing sense of self-respect and pride.
When I wrote my first book, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In” I stressed the importance of judgment free eating and learning how to deal with your stress to release the emotions that keep you always feeling deprived and hungry. I wanted to share my insights into discovering that weight issues are not about food, but about the way that we show up in our lives.
So I focused on teaching the reader how to change their behaviors from the inside-out, to feel safe around setting personal limits and boundaries, deal with difficult people, set goals and focus on self-nurturing as opposed to self-condemnation. I learned that this mindset change towards self-love could be accomplished by using relaxation and stress relief techniques to eliminate or neutralize any negative emotions that are at the core of self-sabotaging behaviors.
As a Certified Empowerment Coach and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner, I’m particularly passionate about teaching my clients how to use a simple do-it-yourself stress relief method called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT to relax and ease stress around all food issues.
But despite the fact that I coach my clients to use tapping for food cravings and question their phantom hungers, I rarely use it that way for myself. I use tapping to forgive my imperfections and to let go of things over which I have no control. So my tendency to overeat, always let me know that I’m in need of a little extra TLC. How ’bout you? How do you know that you’re in need of a little bit more self-love?
Andrea Amador, emotional eating, EFT, tapping, Susan Holmberg, nutritionist,