I have tried to count calories on maybe two separate occasions, and both times I failed at whatever restrictive goal I had set for myself.
I don’t know about you but I finally realized that counting calories just isn’t something I’m interested in. When I hear about people tracking what they eat, the majority seems to be using it to keep track of the caloric aspect of food.
But today I wanted to share an alternative benefit I have found from tracking what you eat, and it has nothing to do with losing weight or restricting yourself.
The first time I discovered the power of tracking what I ate was back in 2012. I had suffered from never ending stomach pain that I just sort of wrote off as normal for the longest time. I was uncomfortable, groggy, and constipated.
But it finally clicked, pain and discomfort should not be the norm. Not to mention that I thought one bowel movement a week was perfectly normal.
I decided to track what I ate for a week, and how I felt after that meal. A pretty simple task. I knew it must be something I was eating that was causing me so much pain, but I couldn’t figure it out before recording my meals.
So I would write down what I ate, the ingredients involved, and then how I felt after. Was there pain, discomfort, bloating, and when was I going to the bathroom. Things like that.
From this I discovered that meat, especially red meat was a big trigger for the stomach pain. I was a pretty typical Iowa girl. I love potatoes and bread, but I decided what’s the harm in giving up meat for a week just to see if anything happened?
And if you’ve heard any of my story before you know the answer. I felt so so much better after that week. But just to make sure, I decided to eat meat once more to see if I could tell a difference. And I could. The stomach pain, bloating, etc. returned quickly after eating that meal containing meat.
I thought, ok what’s the big deal with giving up meat. I can do that. So I started in on my vegetarian journey in October 2012. I felt so much better after that switch that in the following April I decided to go 100% vegan as well as cut out gluten. And that summer was a definite peak in life on how I felt. I had no more stomach pain, bloating, I lost 5 - 10 pounds, and started having daily bowel movements, which I’ve learned is the norm.
I have done it on a smaller scale since then. Sometimes while traveling abroad I will experience some digestive issues. By tracking what I am consuming, and how I feel after I am able to see what foods I need to cut out while my stomach heals itself.
Another time I’ve done it is when I started breaking out again this past summer through this winter. I started paying attention, and discovered the culprit, sugar. Because of this I challenged myself to take a month long break from added refined sugar, and have been pleasantly pleased with the results. No longer is my forehead broken out. Yes, I still get the occasional pimple or two around ovulation, but that cluster of ever lingering acne on my forehead is almost gone. I have also noticed renewed energy as well as less of an afternoon fog, and sudden drops in energy throughout the day.
What in your life is currently ailing you? Is there a chance it could be related to your diet or fixed by food? Start tracking your meals, not restricting anything, but just noting how you feel after each meal. What are your food triggers? Maybe you don’t have any, but maybe you do.
Keeping a food journal is a great first step into starting to pay attention to what you put in your body, next you can start noticing environmental factors. Quality of sleep, daily activities, exercise, relationships, work, etc.
Feel free to share anything you’ve noticed through food journaling.