Do you remember what you had for breakfast on Friday? How about last Tuesday? With all that is going on, who is really thinking about what they ate 2 days ago?
Now is a perfect time to focus on your eating habits. Stress often leads to poor food choices; some people eat too much, some lose their appetite and many become careless about what they eat. Stress takes up much of our energy and thinking about what to eat can be just one more decision we would rather not make. So we grab whatever is quick and easy without a second thought. Often that means tearing open a package and downing the contents or hitting the quickest drive-thru. Just when we should be feeding our bodies the nutrients we need, we turn to foods that stress our bodies, increase inflammation and leave our digestive systems sluggish and inefficient.
We all need to do our part to stay healthy. Social distancing has been mandated; businesses are closed, events canceled, and gatherings forbidden. Certainly this may help prevent the spread of illness, but we can do better. We can give our bodies the fuel, the nutrients and the energy we need to keep our organs working efficiently and our systems working properly to provide defense against illness. And though even a healthy body can get ill, that healthy body can recover more quickly. The human body is an amazing machine, but it needs proper maintenance.
Consuming a healthy diet is an essential step in keeping our bodies healthy. Getting started is often the most difficult step. Start by logging your food.
Creating a food log is simply recording everything you eat. Some people prefer to write in a notebook and others use an app. There are numerous apps available and though they take some time in the beginning, they all get easier the more you log. Logging your food offers many benefits and will give you valuable insight into your eating habits and patterns.
Keeping track of food intake has been a critical component of weight loss and behavior change for years and can be an effective tool for creating healthier habits.
Logging what you eat increases your awareness of what you are actually eating. I have often heard from clients that they are starving after work because they don't have time to eat during the day. Yet, they forgot about the candy they snagged from a co-workers desk, the calories they consumed in that loaded latte, or the cookie they grabbed from the break room. They mindlessly consumed 500-1000 calories but felt as if they hadn't eaten anything all day.
Recording what you eat also provides some insight about the nutritional make up of the foods you consume. It's not uncommon for a meal plan to look like this: a muffin and doughnut for breakfast, burger and fries for lunch, pizza for dinner. No fruit, no veggies, little protein and plenty of overly-processed carbs. People get in the habit of fooling themselves that they are eating healthy and will believe they did well because they only had one piece of pizza. Good start, but without the vital nutrients it needs, your body cannot function optimally and provide the defenses it needs to stay healthy.
Knowing what you consume and what your body needs empowers you to make better choices. Rather than a burger and fries for lunch, you could have the burger (no bun) topped with avocado and salsa and some roasted veggies rather than the fries. Now you have chosen to add some healthy fat, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients your body needs instead of weighing it down with more garbage.
Not only will you gain insight about the nutrients you are consuming (or not), logging can also help you discover personal eating patterns that may be sabotaging your health or weight loss efforts. A mid-afternoon energy slump might entice you to grab that cookie; hours sitting in front of a computer might trigger continual snacking. Once you realize these patterns, you can change them. You can plan for the afternoon slump and have some fruit and nuts available to boost your energy. You may find that sipping water or a cup of tea while working on the computer is all you need to stay focused.
Logging can also provide the incentive you need to continue healthier behaviors. You might enjoy a glass of wine after work, but do you need that second glass? You maintained your calories throughout the day, made healthier choices and feel good about your progress. You might find you don't need or want that second glass. After a full day of better choices, you may find you don't want to diminish your efforts by inhaling that brownie fudge sundae, so you choose a scoop of low-sugar chocolate frozen yogurt instead. Nice job!
Keeping a food log has many benefits and can be a useful tool to improve your health and manage your weight. As you learn to recognize the habits that detract from your goals and the nutrient make up of the foods you choose, you have more control over your dietary choices.
No, you won't have to track you food forever. Once you have made some healthy changes, learned about nutrients and have a better idea of what you are really eating during the day, you won't have to track every day. You may find tracking beneficial during stressful periods, celebrations, or when your schedule changes. Logging your foods during these times can help you maintain a healthy eating plan and stay within your calorie and nutrient requirements.
Your health is the most important thing you can focus on right now. Make the time to make it better! Better Health, Better Life, Better You
Thanks for hanging out with me for awhile. I hope I have inspired you to make some healthy changes. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
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