Have you ever wondered why you struggle to lose those few extra kilos and cannot work out why it’s you that been hit by God’s can’t lose weight stick? ‘ I do everything right and still can’t lose weight’ I hear you cry! When it comes to those in need of weight loss, this can often be a case of complete self-denial or a lack of awareness of what you are actually eating. Perhaps you are a healthy weight but the only way you can stay there is by tight calorie control and a restricted diet? “It’s not fair I have to really watch my weight whilst my friends seem to be able to eat what they like” is another common self-belief that many have fallen into the trap of believing!
The most important part of any healthy eating or weight loss programme is self-awareness. Whenever I ask patients to tell me about their diet, 99% of the time they will respond by saying that they eat really well. On further investigation, many so called ‘healthy eaters’ have a far from perfect diet, devoid of many essential nutrients, low in fibre or high in heavily processed supposedly healthy foods.
The key to any successful result is to get real with what is really going on. Take ownership for your situation and realise that for every action there is a reaction. That square of chocolate, morsel of cheese or odd glass of wine gets forgotten and before you know it you can be consuming way more than you actually need by mindlessly grazing and snacking throughout the day or night. The limited calories and restricted diets may be leading to the food blow outs that you failed to mention or the devouring of an entire bottle of red wine with a large bowl of chips that somehow got forgotten about!
Whatever your goals are, whether it be eating to get healthy, to lose weight or to control weird symptoms or allergies, the most important step is to be mindful of what you are eating. Be mindful of every single morsel or droplet that passes your lips by logging it in a food diary and soon you will be on your way to discovering what may be triggering your bloating, weight gain or allergies. The easiest way to know if you need a diet overhaul is to be totally honest with yourself and keep a food diary for a minimum of 2 - 3 weeks. No judgement attached! This is the Holy Grail when it comes to discovering what your real relationship with food is.
A food diary allows you to write down every meal, snack and mouthful of food and drink and to log what was going on at the time or how you were feeling. It is difficult to forget what you ate or how you felt when you are keeping a diary.
Food Diaries monitor feelings and food triggers to give us the clues to know what to do to get you back on track.
A food diary may show the following important points:
Were you hungry?
Were you sitting down to eat?
Were you picking at snacks during drinks with friends?
Were you grazing over dinner?
Are you going for long periods of time without food?
Is there a particular food that triggers binge eating?
Often we can use food as a distraction to what is really going on in our lives. Many sufferers of obesity and eating disorders use the fixation on food and weight to really mask situations in their life that they do not want to deal with. By focusing on calorie counting, excess kilos or racking up guilt from eating one too many cookies it disguises something emotional going on at a deeper level. Instead of controlling your life by weight or food, a food diary allows you to see patterns of what may really be going on, giving you the courage to face difficult situations head on.
How were you feeling?
Was anything going on to make you feel stressed or anxious?
Little things like procrastinating making a phone call, getting on an aeroplane, or pressure to meet a work deadline can trigger some people to over eat.
Were you bored?
Were you angry or having feelings of low self-esteem?
Are you self-sabotaging because of feeling of inadequacy and feelings of not being deserving?
Many people can have food intolerances which may or may not show up with allergy testing. Different foods can trigger all sorts of weird symptoms and responses and the only real way to know if it is food that is causing your symptoms is to keep a food diary. If you see a pattern emerge between certain foods and certain symptoms try eliminating that food and see if the symptoms persist.
Try keeping a food diary for 3 – 4 weeks and see what patterns emerge. You may be surprised to see how much mindless snacking goes on or how certain foods may be triggering digestive complaints or weird aches and pains.
To make it easy for you I have include a food diary for you to download free of charge. The important thing is to use the diary as a tool to see what may be occurring on a physical and emotional level. If you find yourself getting addicted to keeping track of every morsel that passes your lips and a food diary becomes something you cannot live without, this itself is a sign of something deeper going on either on an emotional or physiological level which can be treated with professional help.
Give it a go and let me know what the secrets of your diaries reveal!
Link to free daily food diary: Daily Food Diary