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03/24/2010

Feature Article: The food journal as a recovery tool for overeating or restricting

When you're overeating or restricting, often you cannot or will not share honestly about what you're eating. When you really think about it, you may realize that you yourself are not fully aware of it. We can be so distracted when in comes to food and eating that we miss the experience altogether.
 
I've shared in a previous issue that mindful eating is a technique that allows you to be present with your meal, while also getting exactly the amount of food your body needs to be nourished. This is such a simple, yet overlooked tool, that is helpful to bring "non-judgmental" awareness to eating.
 
The food journal is an excellent way to bring yourself into the present moment and become more mindful at meal times. And it is only when we bring things into our awareness - without that self-judgment - that we can begin to change and grow.
 
The food journal has two concrete applications with specific benefits:
 
1. Use your food journal to write about your feelings. You can do this before you eat, while you're eating or later when you're thinking about what you've eaten. This will highlight some of the emotional triggers behind your eating behaviors. 
 
2. Use your food journal to record what you've eaten. This will give you an honest and realistic view of what you're actually eating. It helps to bring what is practically un-conscious into the conscious.
 
What's crucial when using a food journal is that you get support for dealing with what you discover. You don't have to do this alone! Bring your journal with you to meetings with your therapist, dietician, 12-step sponsor, support group or another helpful person who you trust.
 
The truth can be scary, but facing it is how we begin to make those changes we are seeking.