During these times of woe and uncertainty, I've been clinging to routine and familiar patterns with the crazed conviction of someone who's floundering. Running? Check. Vegan pizza/beer/movie Sundays? Check. Coffee and reading before the sun comes up? Check. These things have come about naturally in my life, so don't think I'm simply making new patterns to figure everything out...these have been around for awhile. But never before have I found myself thinking, "Wait. I can't possibly have toast for breakfast. I always have oatmeal," or "What do you mean there's a meeting on Sunday? We clearly have plans for pizza and beer! Didn't you see that on the schedule!??!?" (Okay, I don't actually say that).
One routine in particular has been around for ever, and I seriously can't believe it's taken me this long to tell you about it. Every single time I eat anything, even if I'm away from home, regardless of whether I'm happy I ate it or not, I write it down. This habit is known as "food journaling" or "food logging" and is usually found as a part of some crazy diet that'll never work. Often times it's suggested that you food log for a week to see not only what you eat, but how you feel when you eat it and identify those times when you're most likely to fudge up, perhaps literally. Some food loggers combine their journal with an exercise log, or they even count up their calories in the margins and scribble precious phrases across the top like, "You're a beautiful and unique snowflake!" and "You GO girl!" and "Everyone loves you and your sexy ass!"
My food log is none of those impressive things. It's not even in some cute little vegetarian-friendly leather book with gilded pages and watermarked paper. My food log resides in a dumpy, tattered Mead notebook....some of the pages are falling out and the cover is long gone. But despite it's worn appearance, the food log has brought me more clarity than I can express. It answers so many questions. It holds a mirror up in front of your eating habits. It forces you to realize that, yes, you overate yesterday or that, yes-in-deedy-do, cheese makes you constipated. "Why do I feel like crap today? Hmm...well it's because I had a triple latte for breakfast 2 days ago and didn't eat again till dinner where I binged on nachos and french fries and washed it all down with ice cream and 4 beers." No wonder.
Start food logging. You don't have to do with any level of permanence in mind, just give it a whirl and see what it does for you. And don't fall into the trap of dishonesty with yourself...if you ate it, write it down. Brutal truth, man. It's what we all need. A mirror doesn't lie.