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4 posts from March 2010

03/24/2010

Personal note from Sandee Nebel:

To mark National Eating Disorders Awareness Week last month (Feb 21-27), I was a guest lecturer at Stetson University. I spoke to a group of graduate students in mental health counseling about our work with clients with eating disorders. I enjoyed the opportunity to give them a good footing in their future work in our specialty field. Although the official week has ended, I continue to give presentations to schools and various groups on an ongoing basis.  
 
If you've read this newsletter, attended past workshops, browsed the archives or downloaded our free report, you know I feel about journaling, and what a big part it plays in our work here at the White Picket Fence Counseling Center. In today's issue, Liz will also share some myths and truths about journaling. Our feature article is about the food journal, a valuable tool whether your food problems involve overeating or restricting.

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.

A note from Liz Strong: Myths and truths about journaling

A journal is a place to write down your thoughts and experiences. In doing so, you are using a healthy form of self-expression. I encourage clients to use it in this way as a coping strategy, enabling them to unload onto the page. Journaling is also an opportunity to gain insight into the thoughts and feelings that can often be confusing when left to just float around in our heads. A journal can also help you to determine patterns and track progress.
 
Clients are often apprehensive when I suggest journaling as a therapeutic tool, and I can certainly relate. When I was young I started and discarded about 10 diaries. I always began with the intention of logging my inner-most thoughts every day. But after a week, the novelty wore off and the diary would end up in a drawer, forgotten.
 
As an adult, I've had to change my view of journaling as a daily must-do, because it felt forced and I began to resent it. Now, I journal when I feel stressed and it helps me determine what changes I need to make to ease that stress that I may not have been fully aware of.
 
Some common misconceptions about journaling are that it is very time consuming, or that you have to be a gifted writer in order to benefit from it. I remind clients that your journal is your personal property, one that is all your own, thus your expression on the page can be whatever you want it to be.
 

Maybe you like to draw out what you are thinking, or write it in the form of a poem. Maybe one day a paragraph is long enough to help you clear your head; another day, 10 pages feels just right. There is no right or wrong way to journal, all that matters is that you find a way to journal that works best for you. I know that I encourage you to give journaling a chance. Start without any expectations and just see where the page takes you.

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