More than a few people have asked me the following question and I thought now, realizing it’s been awhile since I’ve written in my own personal journal, would be a good time to answer it: “You mention journaling as the key to conquering overeating. I have bought a journal but I wonder: What did you write that you found so helpful? Did you keep track of what you eat, or how you felt while eating, or just write about what’s happening in your day? I’m not sure how you use the journaling.”
I spent a lot of time in my life gaining and losing weight. I never stayed at any one goal weight because I never took the time to understand why I gained weight in the first place. By journaling, I was (and still am) able to figure out what my eating triggers are, what my trigger foods are, and what emotional lows are going on that might cause me to engage in behaviors that do nothing to resolve the problem.
Journaling also helps me collect my thoughts. I often consider the questions “What went right today?” “What made me happy today?” “What am I grateful for today?” “What would I change about today if I could?” when I journal before bedtime. If I journal in the morning, I ask myself what my goals are for the day. It’s like writing down a life strategy.
No one needs to see your journal. I have a private one at home as well as the journals I keep online here and at Lynn’s Journey and The Bering Blog. Remember, blogs are nothing more than public journals.
I find freewriting most effective, too. With a blank piece of paper or a blank screen, I just start writing and don’t stop. It doesn’t have to make sense, but what most often happens is that a theme emerges and the problem I was having becomes more concrete. It has form, and when it has form, I can deal with it. How many times have you said, “I have NO idea what’s bothering me, but something’s making me sad (or mad or irritated or nervous).” Freewriting or by asking yourself specific questions and writing down your answers can often untie that knot in your head and help you see what’s really going on.
Journaling also keeps your hands busy. More than once I’ve grabbed my journal or sat down at my computer when all I could think to do was grab a handful of peanuts or graze on pudding or leftovers. One of my favorite sayings is “If hunger isn’t the question, food isn’t the answer.” If I feel the need to eat, I ask, “Am I hungry?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to reach for my journal or to at least sit and think for a bit about why I want to stuff some food in my mouth.
I hope this answers the journaling question.
What to do with lentils, that was another question that came up this week. Here are two recipes – one vegetarian and one for you meat lovers.
Hearty Lentil Spaghetti
(Via my friend Sharon who got it from Cooking Light and modified it a bit)
Makes a buttload (8-10 servings)
¾ C chopped onion
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 T olive oil
1 ½ C dried lentils, rinsed
4 C vegetable broth
½ t pepper
¼ t cayenne pepper
1 can (14 ½ oz) Italian diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 t white vinegar
1 ½ t dried basil
1 ½ t dried oregano
In a large saucepan coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in lentils, broth, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, basil and oregano. Return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
Serve over whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash.
Slow Cooker Lentils and Sausage
1 (16 ounce) package dry lentils
1 (16 ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained (use tomatoes with green chilies if you like your food spicy)
2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
3 cups water
3 carrots, sliced or chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 C onion, chopped
1 14-ounce package Healthy Choice Turkey Kielbasa or other turkey sausage, cubed and browned
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, if desired (I only use this if I use regular tomatoes and not the kind with green chilies)
Rinse and drain lentils. In slow cooker, stir together all ingredients. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
A BIG thank you to those of you who post recipes in the comments! I really appreciate it, as do other readers. Keep ‘em coming.