Diet Detective Plan
So you want to lose weight. Perhaps you've been at this point before, having started on a weight loss diet but fell off the wagon after a few days or weeks. Increase your chances of success this time by doing a little prep work before you start your next diet.
Because the truth is, you're already on a diet. In order to live, you have to have a relationship with food. If that relationship were only as simple as using food to satisfy hunger, you'd probably have reached your goal weight long ago. But in our culture we turn to food for many more reasons than to appease hunger pangs. Gather clues about the place of food in your life by spending one week as a diet detective. Here's what you do:
1. Prepare seven diet journal pages - one for each day of the week.
Divide each page into three columns.
Label the first column "Time." In this column you will note the time of day whenever you eat or drink anything throughout your waking hours.
Label the second column "What I ate." In this column you will note what you ate and drank and the quantities.
Label the third column "What was going on." In this important column you will note things like your mood, how you felt physically, and the circumstances and events that triggered your eating.
2. Keep this journal for one week.
Why one week? Because it's a short enough time to make such intensive journaling doable, but long enough to include a variety of the types of days and activities you normally encounter. You'll see how your eating pattern on work days differs from how you eat on days off. You'll probably notice that your eating changes on the nights when each kid needs a ride to a different sports practice versus evenings you can relax in front of the TV. You'll be able to see if stress at work or home makes a difference in how much and how often you eat.
3. At the end of the week, analyze your journal.
Look for moods that trigger eating. Did you find yourself raiding the fridge when you were lonely, bored, stressed or angry? Note how people impacted your relationship to food. Did you find yourself searching the cupboard for snacks right after that phone call from your child's teacher or your mother-in-law? Look for patterns. Did you skip meals but at the next one find you were overeating or eating foods that were nutritionally inferior just because they were there and you were starving? This starve-and-overeat cycle is common after skipped meals.
Look for other trends and clues about how you habitually relate to food. Write out your observations. Make a list of times and situations that you now see are likely to sabotage your diet by causing you to snack inappropriately, overeat, or eat foods you should avoid. Make another list of strategies you can put in place to meet the challenges of such times.
This week spent being a diet detective won't take off any pounds. But it will arm you with information about the role food plays in your life. It is information that can help you solve the mystery of how to stay on your weight loss diet and keep your svelte shape after dieting days are past.
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