Does keeping a food journal sound dreadful? If so, your reasons for keeping one may not be the right ones. When used to help nurture your relationship with food, a food journal can actually be one of your most beloved tools.
For many of us, our relationship with food is complicated and it can be difficult to know why things just aren’t working. A food journal gives you the opportunity to connect with your food and to begin exploring ways to eat so that you feel good not only in the moment of eating, but the moments that come afterward.
A food journal can also help you be more mindful during your eating experiences and help you recognize different types of hunger and food satisfaction.
Food journaling isn’t about “getting it right” or adhering to rigid rules. If you are use to dieting, you may find yourself resistant to using a food journal because using one to adhere to a certain way of eating isn’t sustainable, fulfilling or fun.
Instead, a food journal should be used to inspire learning. Learning more about yourself and the foods you eat. This will give you insight into your food relationship and allow you to discover confidence at the table.
When you start a food journal, you want to make sure you are tracking details that will allow you to identify how food fits into your life and how you interact with it. Knowing the what, where, when, and why of your food decisions can be incredibly helpful tools not only in helping you foster a more positive relationship with food, but in normalizing your eating behavior too.
This information may also help you better identify whether or not you are meeting some of the personal goals you set. For example, maybe your goal is to try one new food each week. Thanks to your handy food journal, you’ll easily be able to see whether or not this happened.
A food journal can be shared with others; in fact, I often ask my clients to share their journal with me. Not so that I can be the food police, but so that I can also see how food fits into their daily life. Together, we can identify trends that support positive eating and those that do not. This allows me to help my clients come up with unique and individual goals that they can experiment with.
As my clients figure out how to use a food journal to support their food goals, I can also help make sure they aren’t inadvertently using it to achieve unrealistic goals or ones that could be harmful to their health. Consider me a safety-net of sorts. Someone to help gently guide people down their own path.
Although a food journal CAN be shared with others, keep in mind that the food journal is for YOU. It’s your tool to help support your food relationship. This means that you can individualize it in ways that best help you become a more confident eater.
For some, this might mean writing out a positive affirmation each day at the top of the page. Or, it may mean including an end of day review where you highlight one or two things you have learned about yourself or about your food that day. The key here is that you discover a way to make this a helpful tool that guides you towards that positive relationship with food you desire. It’s only as helpful as you allow it to be.
Snacking may not seem like a very controversial topic, but in the world of nutrition it can be a rather divisive topic. That’s because “snacking” doesn’t necessarily always look the same for each individual. Some people may find that they graze on snacks throughout the day while others may classify a snack as an opportunity to respond to hunger.
How do I feel about snacks? I believe that snacking can support your health; however, a snack should be something that supports your meal structure, not serve as a replacement for meals or as an opportunity to indulge on foods you wouldn’t necessarily include into a regular meal. In fact, snacks are kind of like mini-meals, continuing to be rooted in your basic food groups with the desire to satisfy hunger.
Meals provide opportunity for you to nourish yourself. To make the most of these opportunities, you want to make sure you are ready to eat at meals, but aren’t overly hungry. This is where snacking can play an important role. If hunger strikes in between meals, you should respond to it. Just like with meals, you want to utilize this opportunity to provide your body with what it needs. To do so, you may find it helpful to pair up two foods from different food groups to create a satisfying and sustaining snack.
If you aren’t quite sure what foods pair well together for snack time, here are eighteen of my favorites you might enjoy as well. Keep in mind that this isn’t an end-all-be-all kind of list. It’s just a starting point for you and your family.
18 Food Pairings Perfect for Snack Time
- Apples and peanut butter
- Clementines and string cheese
- Banana and yogurt
- Almonds and dried cranberries
- Cottage cheese and pepper strips
- Carrots and guacamole
- Whole wheat crackers and tuna
- Rice cake with strawberry slices and peanut butter
- English muffin topped with tomato and mashed avocado
- Tomato topped with mozzarella
- Applesauce and vanilla wafers
- A slice of whole wheat bread and peanut butter
- Homemade trail mix – raisins, peanuts and whole grain cereal
- Figs and cashews
- Whole grain waffle with cream cheese and blueberries
- Cheese cubes with pear slices
- Whole wheat tortilla with beans and salsa
- Whole wheat pita chips with hummus