When I speak to health-concerned clients, the most common complaint I hear is a sense of overwhelm, confusion and irritation about knowing what or what not to eat. It makes sense. We all want to feel well, live a long time, achieve our goals and avoid terrible diseases, so the media messages that challenge our choices hit us in a vulnerable spot. I want to offer a very useful tool that can help, and a new question you might want to kick around for yourself.
The tool I’ll offer today is a downloadable 3-Day Food Log Sound boring? No way. This tool can be a great first step in helping you to quickly and powerfully get related to what and why you are eating and hone in on how these choices are impacting you. Read on for a few important suggestions for how to use this log to empower your eating.
Approach all of the below with curiosity and care for yourself, and remember that you efforts are to bring you freedom, ease and greater health in the long run.
1. Begin to notice connections and patterns
2. When you’re ready, adopt the mindset of a scientist.
Now you might want to run some experiments to test and discover more about these connections. When you’re testing changes, here are a few general guidelines.
Broadly, there a number of different ways to approach such experiments, and the two I’ll mention here are change one thing or change many things, then test one thing at a time.
Option 1 – Change one thing. If you see a connection or cause/effect that you’d like to address, change only that one thing and continue to observe. This will give you information about a single variable and its impact.
A few years ago I noticed that I was getting a lot of phlegm in the back of my throat, so much that I sometimes felt I was choking. I suspected cheese wasn’t helping with this and I removed it for a couple of weeks. No more phlegm or choking feeling. Sometimes it can be very simple.
Option 2 – Change a lot of things, then test one thing at a time. This approach is called an “elimination diet.” The premise is to remove everything you suspect is causing problems, free yourself of most or all of the potential offenders, see how you feel (often much better), then one by one re-introduce the very specific types of food that were avoided. This is a challenging process, but one that is still viewed as the “gold standard” of identifying problematic foods.
3. Get real about the big discoveries
Friends, we live in a challenging world and a challenged food environment. Tuning in like this might bring important matters front and center. A few discoveries to take seriously, and seek help with:
Overwhelming symptoms. Many people suffer an awful lot, but we just dig in and endure. When we finally stop for a moment to tune in, we may find that the connections feel nearly impossible to see. It may be time to write down what you’re experiencing and schedule a visit with your doctor or find a health provider who can help you begin to address your suffering. We provide some supportive services that can help and can connect you with local health providers who are respected for helping people address root causes of illness.
Addiction. When a food or substance overrides your ability to choose for yourself what you’d like to eat or how you’d like to live, it may be time to address the issue head-on. Let us now if we can help you get connected with the support you need.
Out-of-control eating or self-harming behavior around food. If you notice that you are frequently struggling with a strong drive to either eat too much, eliminate food you have eaten from you body or withhold food from yourself in ways that you or others in your life consider harmful, it is likely time to get some help. You know yourself best, but I can say that there are wonderful healthcare providers who can help.
No matter what you’re facing, I hope you will begin to find that you have the power to begin finding your own answers. Look for more from Grow Well on all of these topics now and in the future.
You might also like our online program, Free Yourself Around Food.
About our Mindful Eating Series. This series offers a range of tools to help you restore mindfulness and kindness to your everyday eating. Eating is an opportunity for mindfulness that arises quite naturally several times a day. Taking on practices of mindful eating can be extremely helpful in promoting healthier eating habits, as well as greater peace of mind and joy.