I opened the year 2018 with a new commitment to myself. My husband and I will turn 40 in a few years, and that has brought about a lot of realizations in my life. Our health is just one of those. He has Type 2 Diabetes, I’m pre-diabetic myself. I decided it’s time for a paradigm change and it may sound like a cliche, but there’s something great about starting a new lifestyle on a new year. It feels like you have momentum behind you. Before the new year, though, I did start a health journal. I ate what I usually ate, drank what I usually drank, and wrote them down.
A few weeks of doing this gave me an insight on the state of my eating habits. I didn’t eat a lot of rice and ulam, but I loved my sweet treats and I enjoyed them at all hours of the day. Writing it down gave me valuable insight on what I put inside my body and what I placate my hunger with. I think gaining this insight before I plunged into a drastic lifestyle change was particularly good for me. It felt a lot like reasoning with myself.
I planned our week’s meal, made a simple grocery list, and planned out what things I wanted to track. I decided on a few things; exercise, caffeine intake, food, and overall mood/feelings for the day. Again, a few weeks into recording these things gave me more insight on how I was faring. The first week that we started on a low-carb, high-fiber, high-protein diet, I was expecting to go through a difficult withdrawal, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, I felt clear-headed. All these years I got so used to living with frequent headaches that I think my body just accepted it as normal. Like white noise in the background that I eventually learned to live with. Several times a week, I would struggle with worse headaches, and that’s when I would pop painkillers. The first week that we changed our diet, I felt like I had more energy, I felt that I could do more things within a day and that I don’t burn out after giving the best of myself to my work. I felt like there’s more of me to give. I was also snacking less. I felt more satiated and less hungry. This didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy food anymore, I still did. Just a different kind of food, and still in healthy, generous portions.
I documented my daily challenges and enjoyment about a more involved process of planning and preparing food for myself and my husband. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t unpleasantly difficult. We tried a few things that worked and a few that didn’t work, and we learned from them.
In my health journal, I also documented food or drink-related things that I found interesting. I enjoyed that most.
At this point, I think I can say that I have a more natural feel for what my body needs and what we want to eat for the week. I am aware that I will not need to monitor my food intake anymore. I know that a lot of people monitor their diet by writing down what they ate, and I’m sure it works for them, but I have a very different approach to it. I like to monitor for a while to gain insight, then wean myself out of it so that it doesn’t become all about the stats anymore. My health journal will still be about my health, the food and drinks I find interesting, but it will be less about policing my food intake than enjoying the new kinds of food that I like to eat. Sort of like removing my training wheels.
So there, that’s a little peek in my health journal. I would encourage anybody who wants to change their eating habits to start one. This format or any other format that helps you make sense of your diet is going to be helpful.
Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018 for all of us.