If you'd like to understand, once and for all, the relationship between what you're eating and how you feel, try keeping a mind-body food journal. It's a powerful way to gain insight into your eating habits and how your food choices impact your mental and physical wellbeing. A mind-body food journal is different from a "diet diary" because the intention is different: it's not just about the fit of your jeans, it's about how food makes you feel physiologically and emotionally and how it fits (or doesn't fit) your lifestyle.
Too often we eat mindlessly - on the run, watching television, behind the computer. A mind-body food journal helps create clarity between what we choose and how we feel. It leads the way to improved choices and - because food is medicine - supports total mind-body health and healing.
What to Track in a Mind-Body Food Journal
- When did you eat?
- What did you eat?
- How much did you eat?
- Why did you eat?
- How did you feel after eating?
- What was your overall mood before and after eating?
- Did you have headaches, mental/emotional fatigue or any other symptoms?
- What did you notice about your body before and after eating?
- Did your energy level change or did you experience sympotoms like gas or bloating?
Social & Environmental Factors:
- Who were you with for the meal?
- Did you eat hurriedly or calmly?
- Were you feeling stressed?
- Were you doing another activity while eating?
Review your journal at the end of each day and summarize your habits. Note the key factors for why you chose to eat the way you did, what was going on, how you felt and if there were any physical symptoms.
By keeping a mind-body food journal you will be able to connect the dots between your food, your emotions, and your physical body. I also find that it helps me make better choices because I'm less likely to go for that sweet treat if I know I have to write it down.
Start keeping your journal today. Track your eating habits for a few weekdays and at least one weekend day. Do this for at least two weeks and see what happens. You can keep a small notebook or journal on hand or use your notes app in your phone, whatever works best for you. I recommend avoiding most food tracking apps since they require you to enter macronutrients and/or calories which defeats the purpose of this exercise.
I'd love to hear how this worked for you and what you learned, so please comment below and share your experience. Happy journaling!