My clients come to me to lose weight, telling me that they have tried everything and nothing has worked. Some even tell me they are eating healthy and still not losing weight. The first thing I have them do is keep a food journal.
I do not have them tracking calories in the food journal. The food journal is to help them start identifying patterns and behaviours so that they can learn why they are overeating and struggling to lose weight.
For me, I spent over 20 years believing I was overweight because I lacked willpower or something wrong with me; this led to me feeling ashamed, frustrated and depressed. I believed I had no control over my eating. Having all those crappy feelings only had me seeking comfort in food-which had me eating so much more.
At age 40, I learned that it was not another diet, shake, pill, or any of those things I tried in the past that I needed. It was not that there was something wrong with me or that I was a failure because I did not know how to eat in a sustainable way and that things were going on inside of me that was sabotaging me. When I learned what does work, I lost 100 lb.
I learned that to lose weight permanently; I had to go beyond food and exercise. I had to look at what was blocking me from doing what I said I would do to get me to my goal weight.
When I dieted, I focused on doing everything right, but it is not about that, losing weight is about doing the right things, not doing everything right!
Here are four things that I have my clients start to record in their food journal when they first work with me.
#1 What they eat.
They make a realistic 24 Hr plan the night before (or in the morning), and then each time they put in their mouth (food and drinks) throughout the day, they write it down (they do not wait until the end of the day to write it down)!
Doing this is all about finding out if they are eating exactly what they planned for the day, are they staying committed to their plan?
It is becoming aware of when they grab those extra bites, what is happening in the day that has them eating extra.
Also, learning how they talk to themselves when they eat off their plan and how they are not a failure for having that extra food. They look at everything they ate and see it as data in helping them be aware of what worked, what didn’t work, and what they can do differently tomorrow.
#2 Hunger and Fullness
Learning about what real physical hunger and fullness feel like in the body is essential because they have been shut down to feeling that for so long.
I have them note their level of hunger before they start eating and the level of fullness when they stop eating.
Tuning into our body is new for many because we have been taught to eat by the clock or eat a certain amount of calories; eating this way is not eating for what our body needs — so no wonder we have a hard time losing weight.
They will start to find out if they are waiting too long before eating or eating too soon. To learn when your body is telling you, “I’ve had enough.”
#3 Are they physically hungry or are they eating from emotional hunger
Most of my clients are eating not because they are physically hungry, but because there are emotions that they are having that they don’t feel comfortable having.
These emotions are created from a thought about a situation that has occurred.
Some examples of feelings that come up are frustration, disappointment, anger, overwhelm, stress, anxiety or sadness, which has them turning to food to numb out, avoid or deny what is going on.
Or for some, the desire to eat happens with situations that are about celebrating and connection.
Having my clients start to become aware and tune into where the hunger is coming from, is it from their body or is the hunger coming from thought and emotion helps them to understand why they are eating.
#4 The quality of food they are eating
For some of my clients, this might be an eye-opener to find out all the food and drinks they are consuming that contain sugar.
Having too much sugar leads us to have a hormone imbalance, making it difficult to lose weight. When we have high sugar levels, it triggers an insulin response, which affects how our body uses our fat reserves for energy.
I have my clients put a star next to anything (food or drink) with refined sugar in it so they can see where they can make changes.
All of this information might seem like a lot to track, but doing it each day will give you valuable information to start to lose weight sustainably.
The next step after Journaling is working on any other blocks that are keeping them struggling to lose weight.
If you would like to explore why you are struggling to lose weight and put a sustainable plan in place, book a free ‘Lose the Weight’ call here.
You are worth it!
Registered Nurse, Certified Weight and Emotional Eating Coach