Last week, I discovered a wonderful blog about healthy eating and exercise, called “Can You Stay for Dinner?” Five years ago, Andie Mitchell, a 27-year-old lively soul, lost 135 lbs, and she has maintained that weight ever since.
You can read her story and follow her timeline here. She also discusses her peace with food, maintenance, visiting a nutritionist, recipes, cooking techniques, and her exercise history.
As a nutrition student, my professors constantly remind us of the importance of portion sizes and self-monitoring. Throughout our dietetics curriculum, we are trained to educate our clients on appropriate portion sizes and encourage them to keep their own food journals. Food journaling can be a great way to increase your awareness about the choices you make on a daily basis. If you’ve never kept a food journal before, I encourage you to try it.
Try recording every meal that you eat for an entire week. Record the time that you ate. Record the portion size to your best ability. Record what you were doing when you were eating. No one will ever know what you ate – just do this for you! In a week, review your journal and see if you notice any patterns or anything that you think you can change.
I remember keeping a food journal my freshman year for one of my introductory nutrition classes. We were instructed to journal our meals, the time of day, the location of the meal, the atmosphere (eating alone or in a group), the activity while eating (if any), the reason for eating, and feelings before and after the meal. Now THAT was an extensive and exhausting food journal exercise, but it was veryyyy interesting to see how many times you eat because you’re truly hungry. Sometimes we eat because we’re bored. Other times we eat because we don’t know when we’ll have time for food later. Many of us have to eat something while we watch television or movies. Some of us eat when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, or upset. We all eat for many different reasons, but if you’d like to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle, then learn to understand your own body. Find out what makes YOU eat food.
Learning to keep a food journal will bring you one step closer to managing your own health. PLUS, if you ever want to seek professional help from a dietitian or nutritionist, they will LOVE you for having a journal. Before we can make any dietary changes, we must first assess current dietary habits, and food journals provide excellent data for diet analysis.
Here is a brief excerpt from Andie’s blog that I found fitting for today’s post because she discusses the importance of portion size and food journaling in her weight loss journey:
“I think the success I had in Italy and the months prior, was due in part to keeping a food journal. In an effort to use the valuable tools I had gained from Weight Watchers, I tried to become aware of what I was eating. It’s amazing the things you learn from this process of tracking your meals and snacks. In all seriousness, keeping a food journal at least for a short time was unbelievably beneficial to me. I think it can be so helpful in creating not only awareness, but also portions and balance. It also taught me to not beat myself up for anything I ate. Yes I wanted to lose weight and not be morbidly obese, but I also wanted to seize every opportunity and if that meant churros in Spain, that meant churros in Spain. In the grand scheme of things, the meals that you think negate your healthy lifestyle, do not.”
I know we’re all busy people, but if you’re interested in reading Andie’s story, or you know someone else who may be interested, please pass it along. Her story is inspirational and honest. Anyone who has struggled with weight loss should follow her blog. She can inspire all of us to be brave, strong, and confident in who we are. In the words of the old 90’s Dr. Pepper slogan: be you. Do what you do :)