New research is showing that keeping a food journal is a great way to stay on track with your goals, lose weight, and increase your motivation to stick to your routine. In habit research, a very strong "tool" to use is tracking whatever habit you want to change.
For example, are you excessively spending? Then track where your money goes. Do you have a bad habit of negativity? Track each negative thought that pops into your head and replace it with a positive one. Want to lose weight? Track each morsel that goes into your mouth and write down every bite of food you eat.
You get the idea. Just last week, there was new compelling research that states that My Fitness Pal users, a popular calorie-counting app, are more successful at losing weight compared to those who don't track their food intake.
Now before you go and download this app and start crunching the numbers, hear me out. I am not against tracking your food intake, but we MUST take these studies and nutrition advice with a grain of salt. Recommendations are different for every person, even when it comes to whether or not you should keep a food diary, calorie count, or log every bite of your food into some app.
I tracked calories from the time I was 16 until about 25 years old. And let me tell you...it. was. torture. Not only did it steep me deeper into my disordered eating behaviors, it fueled my binge eating disorder, feelings of inadequacy, and restrictive eating tendencies.
However, I know many people who have successfully counted calories for longer than me, and never experienced the side effects and thought patterns that I did. Everyone is built differently, and different tactics work for different people. For me, the minute I let go of calorie counting and food tracker, I dropped weight, dropped stressed, and gained FREEDOM.
For the most part, I don't recommend calorie counting for my Joyful Harvest Clients. I don't want them to focus on calories. Calories are so 1999 you guys. Health is all about NUTRIENTS and nourishing our bodies with real, whole foods, finding balance in your lifestyle, and learning to trust your body.
However, I DO believe that keeping a food journal can have a healthy place in a healthy lifestyle. Writing down what you eat in a diary format, as well as the time of day, your mood, and how you feel afterwards, can give you a ton of information about your eating habits, if you are eating enough, and if you tend to emotionally eat. I think journaling can be a great tool to track your food intake without letting it get to your head, which can lead to obsession. Obsessing about food is no way to live...trust me...I've been there.
With that said, if keeping a journal stresses you out as well, don't do that either! Especially if you are recovering from disordered eating patterns. We do not need to add more stress to our already stressful lives. The minute your healthy lifestyle becomes a stresser, it's time to reevaluate what you are doing and how you can tweak it so that it doesn't take over your joy.
As you can see, nutrition recommendations, even those backed by research such as the latest food journal research coming out, differ from person to person. It is so important to work with a credible health professional (heyyy such as an RD like me!) to be able to customize a plan and lifestyle that works best for YOU.
We are all so uniquely and wonderfully different, so don't you ever feel pressured to do what mainstream media tells you to do. Dig deep, find what works for you, and follow your heart.
If you have any questions or need some additional support, my virtual door is always open! Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com!