May 18, 2011

Food Journaling: An essential tool for recovery

…Another great journaling technique: Record your hunger level on a scale of 1-10 along with your thoughts/feelings before eating & again after eating. It’s a really interesting way to observe the relationship between your feelings & eating habits and to pick up on patterns that you might not have been consciously aware of.On the scale: a “1″ would be absolutely ravenous/starving, and a “10″ would be super stuffed, eating to discomfort.  A “5″ would be not stuffed/not hungry, but neutral.   So, the “ideal” (for non-disordered eating), would be to reside around the middle of the scale as much as possible.  (Thus, eating every 4 hours, keeping blood sugars steady, etc)   …For emotional eaters who may have less experience connecting their eating habits to actual physical hunger, this might not be an easy task actually.  I’m still working on it after years.  But – it is SO illuminating.  My strongest advice though, is to suspend judgment as much as possible when journaling.  When we eat TO be unconscious, TO stuff things down, TO self-medicate, it’s a habit that’s not easy to break.  We have to remind ourselves that it’s a process, a journey, and just like parenting a child, it takes time and patience, and kindness.  For example, if you find yourself eating to a “9″ when you started at a “5″  (eating to physical pain when you weren’t even hungry to start with), instead of berating yourself “I shouldn’t have done that”,  try the more gentler inquisitive approach: “Gee, I wonder why I did that?”   Then, look to the feeling/thinking/doing notations for your answers.
It’s a discovery process, an adventure!  And it gives you the tools and power to begin thinking HEALTHY substitutes to using food as a “go-to” coping mechanism.

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