January (and almost February) has come and gone , and by now, most people would have given up on their New Year's resolutions. Fortunately, I didn't make any, but have set myself a goal for every month. So far, things are going well - In total, I missed 4 days of walking January. Yes, I certainly kept up my daily walking routine and still combine it with a proper workout 4-6 times a week. My goal for February has been to swop lunch and dinner - now it's big lunch and small/light dinner. For one thing, I'm certainly sleeping much better, although it takes quite a bit of planning and preparation.
Since mid-January, I also started keeping a food journal/diary, writing down EVERYTHING I eat and drink during the day. Sounds easy, but it does take some discipline! Writing things down retrospectively is challenging and it's easy to forget to note that croissant at mid-morning.
I'm going old school and using the pen and paper method - I have a notebook and pen in the kitchen and I carry around a small notebook and pen in my handbag. That way, everytime my hand moves to my mouth, I note it down immediately... well, almost everytime. There are of course several mobile apps that you can use, some of them with wonderful functions, but I find the process more cumbersome than just writing it down. Besides, it cuts down on 'screen time' during the day.
I learned quite a few things from looking back on the last month's meals:
Late afternoon seems to be my obsessive snack time. I suspect is more due to habit than actually needing a snack. Now that I'm having big lunch, there really isn't a need as I'm not hungry, but later afternoon is the time I start cooking tomorrow's meal and that's when the bit of red pepper or few nuts find their way to my mouth. Of course, those are the things that I usually forget to note in my diary as my mind is busy with cooking. Fortunately, it's fairly healthy snacking and not candy or cookies - but it does add up to my total daily calorie intake.
Knowledge is power, so knowing this helps me be conscious and I can, more often than not, stop the snacking.
There is one item after every lunch: 'block of dark chocolate'.
I have it guilt free and savour every bit of it - it's usually 80%. I had to experiment a while to find the 'sweet spot' for which % is best. Of course the higher the cacao, the less the sugar, but 100% was just not palatable, now matter how hard I tried - and I tried!
Noticing that 1 block of chocolate is usually enough to stop me from reaching for something else later in the day as I'm reminded that I had a 'dessert' already. On occassion, it's even stopped me from pouring a mid-week glass of wine.
By writing down everything, you can look back on your day and if you've had more treats than you planned, you can 'get back on the horse' immediately, instead of going overboard. It's almost a control check of sorts.
Weekends are no longer a free for all feast. Seeing how well I've done during the week, stops me from going off the rails and I tend to make healthier choices when it comes to meals. But weekends are for fun too, so my alcohol consumption increases on weekends. Considering that I don't drink during the week, it's understandable,but knowing how calorific alcoholic beverages are, I try to limit myself to 2-3 drink only. In total, my alchol consumption has come down quite a bit, which of course, makes my waistline happier.
My goal for March, by the way, is to go sober for 30 days. More about that soon.
Five a day
I noticed that on some days I get 9 portions of veg and fruit and on other days, only 3 or 4 portions. Being aware of this fact, allows me to make sure that I get at least 5 portions every day - but it does mean you have to be somewhat flexible with meal planning and preparation.
As I said before, knowledge is power - and keeping a food diary certainly empowers me to make healthier choices overall. It does not need to be a long term committment, doing it for a week or two will already tell you many things about your diet.
I believe we instinctively know what foods are healthy or not - knowing that you've gone for a second helping or are having a chocolate bar every afternoon allows you to start reflecting on the reasons for doing it. Knowing why you have a habit, could just be the key to helping you change it.