Like so many people out there, I have done my fair share of diets preaching to get me to my “best body yet”. Yet none of them ever did. Why? At the core, they were all fundamentally the same. I was either depriving myself of delicious and often perfectly healthy food and/or counting calories. Seeing that I am good at neither and actually despise both of those things, I gave up dieting for good and opted for literature that outlined healthy eating habits instead.
If ever I’ve had a brilliant idea in my life, it was that one! My research eventually led me to a book I adore called “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Giuliano. Initially, I was engaged by the bold title. “I want to be a chick, skinny, French girl too!” I thought to myself. But, the book struck a deeper chord with me. It wasn’t just another diet book; it was the author’s memoir on her relationship with food, which made it both an easy read and a stimulating one. Through her memoir, Giuliano teaches you to be conscious of the food you put in your body in a way that both satisfies your senses and keeps your heart healthy (no food deprivation or calorie counting!).
An abundance of great tips on portion control and delicious recipes can be found throughout the book, but it also brings to light the ingenuity of keeping a food journal: the perfect solution for non calorie-counting, food conscious people. If you’re not familiar with a food journal, it’s just a small notebook that is used to track everything you eat throughout the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks…etc). The book instructs you to use a food journal for three consecutive weeks in order to find patterns in your eating habits i.e. you drink soda every day at lunch or you drink a beer every night with dinner. Unlike many diets that instruct you to cut out all forms of carbohydrates and sugars from your daily meals (so hard!!!), the food journal is used to eliminate bad habits one week at a time (after the initial three week observation period) i.e. the first week you might stop drinking soda everyday at lunch, the second week you add on and stop drinking a beer with every dinner and so on and so forth. The results take time, but they are long term. Teaching yourself to cut out bad eating habits and incorporate healthy, nutritious foods into your diet avoids the stresses of yo-yo dieting and allows you to easily maintain not only a stable weight, but a stable lifestyle.
According to Giuliano, the goal of the food journal is to get you to be food conscious without having to use a journal. And, that’s awesome, if that’s also your personal goal. However, I think food journaling is actually a tool that can be used continually (Oprah.com says Carry Underwood’s been using a food journal to keep her health in check forever!). So, grab a pen and paper or your Iphone and start journaling!
Written By: Delfina Bonilla-Cassel (Ann Arbor CMF Intern)