Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | March 26, 2011

Beginning Food Journaling

Most people, from looking at me, would not consider me a person who struggles with food.  I am within the normal weight for my height, but I have learned over the past 5 or so years that my body craves foods that are not good for my body.  Though it doesn’t always result in weight gain, I have found that my food and exercise choices (along with regular time with the Lord and His Word) greatly affect my mood.  My husband(don’t you love husbands?) has also gently told me that he notices certain eating patterns coinciding with my hormonal cycles.  I find that there are times when I will binge on any candy hiding in the house(most of it I’ve hidden from the kiddos), will “need” a bowl of cereal at night after the kids go to bed or will “treat myself” to a soda or french fries when I am out on an errand.   Sneaking food is something that I can remember doing as a child and can admit still happens at times as an adult. 

When I look at it all, it can seem overwhelming, but I started working on each of these disciplines(regular quiet time with God, Bible memorization, exercise and eating) one at a time.  Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit and although there may be physiological reasons why these disciplines may be difficult, I have felt convicted through my time in the Word and prayer that these are areas God wants to help me gain victory over.  I began tracking my regular quiet time with God and my exercise routine last year.  I talked about my “system” for doing so here.  I also have continued to memorize the book of Colossians (though I will admit I’m a couple weeks behind schedule).  Over time – it was NOT easy at first – I have come to love each of these disciplines and I truly do feel like something’s missing now when they have not happened for the day. 

Well, now I feel like I need a system for the food part.  I have read more on nutrition and food and our industrialized way of destroying our food and organic food and gardening your own food and on and on……in the past 2 years than probably any other topic.  I was initially shocked as I read In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Shock turned to anger. Anger turned to “what can we do?” “What can we do?” turned to overwhelment(is that a word?) that I didn’t have enough money, time and resources to make the changes I wanted to.  We have made great changes as I began my “food journey”.  Here’s my problem: Although I don’t purchase much in the way of processed foods, make many things from scratch that I never did before, meal plan a month in advance so we don’t eat out as much, buy mostly organic produce, purchase farm fresh eggs and raw milk(haven’t switched over completely due to $$) and increased the amount of grassfed meat we purchase, much of the healthy food has a way of not actually making it into my body.  I could act like it’s just because I’m giving all the good stuff to my kids and “sacrificing” for them, but the truth is that I’m a closet picky eater and don’t always eat what I cook for them!  Eggs are not my favorite; I don’t really enjoy cheese unless it’s on pizza or lasagna, and I get sick of salads within a week, the only veggies I love to eat are carrots & potatoes.  I love my carbs! My body has unnatural cravings for what processed food we do have in the house and Ioften eat just enough of the “best food” to justify eating the “not so good for me” food or I end up just skipping meals because I don’t want to eat the “best food” but don’t want to feel guilty about eating the “not so good for me” food.  How’s that for a confession?

So this week, I am starting a new mission:  I need to figure out exactly what I’m eating because I’ve found that what I buy and what I cook are not the same as what I actually eat.  I searched online for a food journal that would help me keep track and happened upon the Food ‘n’ Mood Journal.

Although it didn’t have everything I wanted to keep track of, it had most of it and it was easier to tweak it and use it than to make my own:)…and I thought it was cute:)…and it was free:)…and I’m an old-fashioned pen & pencil journaler so an “app” wouldn’t work for me:)  I like that it has a way to keep track of how much water I drink, that it has a place for me to track the time & place I am when I am eating and what my mood was before and after.  Rather than keeping track of my weight each day since health is more a concern to me than weight I am going to use that space to keep track of what day I am on my menstrual cycle.  The space at the bottom I will also use to keep track of what specific exercise I did and what time of the day I did it.  I am hoping to do this for several months so that I can get an idea about how my body processes different foods, how my hormonal cycles and exercise affect what I crave/eat as well as just have some accountability about what I am putting into my mouth.  I’m also hoping that if I know I have to write it down, I will choose not to eat something I don’t want to see on the paper. 

Just as we could not really make a family budget until we had kept track of our spending habits for several months, I realized that it is pretty useless for me to try to create or utilize a diet program(no matter how good! it may be) unless I truly see what my eating habits really are.

So, I printed out a bunch of journals(2 in 1 double sided to use less paper) and will be starting on Monday.  I am going to keep a week’s worth clipped to the week in my Well-Planned Day calendar(see sidebar) and then filed at the end of each week.  In a few months, I hope to share here the Bible study I am doing in the character trait of self-control and what I have found out about my body through the Food ‘n’ Mood journal.  Would love to have anyone join me who is also interested. 





  1. Jennifer you sound a lot like me. I used to hide candy and treats to eat for myself in private. It feels like a reward when the kids are all in bed. Or eating out when no one else is in the car with you- completely understand that one.
    I have to tell you the more I got that food out of the house the less I crave it. Now, I don’t have any hidden stashes to search for. I actually when through my pantry and cupboards and threw it all away. And then, I didn’t buy it again. Now when I get a sweet tooth, which is more rare now, I take a spoonful of honey or eat fruit and I am satisfied. My menstrual cycles seem to be much smoother going too. Food really does affect mood. I noticed that if I let Maddy have anything with white flour it’s like I gave her spoonfuls of sugar.
    As far as the organic food goes. I really didn’t think I would be this far into it this soon. I thought it would take much longer for me to have mostly organic food in the house. There are few things I buy any more that are not organic thanks to Azure. I don’t freak out if I have to buy something non organic but I definitely prefer it.
    And there are a few things I still have a hard time eating. I will probably never like oatmeal. Everyone in the house eats it but me. I have tried and I actually want to like it but the texture is gross to me. But I do like other things I never thought I would and I think that is because my body started craving it more after I switched to a healthier diet.
    I think it’s great that you are studying self-control. That is an area I am always working on. I am excited to follow your progress with your food journey. I think those of us who are on this journey really need to encourage each other because it’s not an easy.
    Thanks for sharing :o)

  2. You, too? My mood has definitely been less than joyful lately, but I just couldn’t figure out what to do about it. I heard someone say once that good habits are like forms that God can pour his Spirit into. It’s so easy to focus on feelings instead of obedience! Thanks for the challenge. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Jennifer,
    I find your post very interesting… this is something that I to have struggled with.
    Thanks for sharing… you have me thinking this morning.

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