Monday, June 6, 2011

Nothing says "I'm dieting" more than a food journal

Ah – food journals. Recording one’s food intake is a loathsome part of dieting. It’s just another side of dieting that offers daily opportunities for feelings of guilt and shame.

Dieting motivation is always high in the beginning. It courses through my veins like a sugar rush; it’s easy to journal, kind of fun in a way. “Look at all the healthy food I’m eating!” “Look another glass of water I can check off!” I say to myself.

But as time marches on, I start to believe that writing in the food journal is not as important as originally thought. I begin to skip this task; a meal here, a day there.

Motivation wanes. Unplanned eating begins to increase and goes on undocumented in the food journal. Soon there is less recorded eating and more unrecorded eating.

“What’s the point?” I think to myself and journaling stops altogether. The dieting effort stops shortly thereafter, as terminating journaling always seems to be the beginning of the end of dieting.

So I was hesitant when my therapist asked me to record my food intake. “Eat whatever you would normally eat. No restrictions on your food or in the amount that you eat.” Immediately I felt my body going into a diet mode and every fibre in me wanted to rebel against the task. However, I reminded myself that I had come for help and apparently journaling was going to help in some way.

The therapy food journal required far greater detail than a regular dieting journal. Along with the usual documentation of food and drink consumed, I was also required to note: time of eating or drinking; indicate episodes that I considered binge eating; any compensatory behaviour (such as purging or laxatives); and events of feelings that influenced my eating. And, record my weight.

Although it took me six more months to actually step on a scale to record my weight, the therapy food journal provided a new perspective into my eating issues.

I was shocked to learn that a lot of my problems actually came from dieting.


  1. I hate/love journaling too and completely do the same thing -- as soon as I stop journaling I end up back to "normal"...

    I might start up just journaling (not the diet part) and try and see if I can stick with it...

  2. You know I used to feel like a food journal was dieting mode. But I have been doing it for 6 months now and I have not felt pissed about having to do it. I have felt guilt once... passingly over drinking a large quantity of wine and smirking recording it. But not with the food. I am terribly dishonest with myself unless I do the journal. If I go out I estimate the calories, letting them be what they will be and moving on. My goal by the end of the week is 1500 average, but I vowed no freakouts if not. I have a lot to lose to be healthy and I did not gain it over night AND I do not want to feel punished.

    Now I like the habit and will continue it as I maintain. My issue before was numbing myself to reality. This permanently fixes me to it. OK Semi permanent, like a glue stick permanent : )


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