How Journaling Can Help Stop Mindless Eating

Through most of middle school, high school and college I kept a journal by my bed that I used like a personal diary, recording life updates, joys, fears, crushes, dreams for the future, and anything and everything.  Much of it is embarrassing to read now but having that space to write a letter to myself was a powerful tool that helped me process life and connect inwardly with my emotions as well.

The concept of a food diary is popular for weight loss or providing accountability for your food intake, but did you know that journaling out your emotions is also effective?

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way recommends stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning to help capture all the things swirling around in your mind and put them out on paper.  She began working with groups of women using this tool to help recapture their creativity and connect with themselves and found an interesting side effect: many of the women also began to lose weight!

Food is the most widely abused drug

When we think about emotional eating, this makes a lot of sense.  We are often eating mindlessly to ‘feed’ our emotions- food to cover up pain or fear, food to celebrate successes, food to procrastinate a daunting project.

Instead, if we can be honest with ourselves and face our fears, write out our worries, and see our emotions poured out on paper we can attend to them and to ourselves in healthier ways.

We can acknowledge those feelings (rather than squash them down each morning.)

We can discover an emotion we didn’t know was brewing (and do something more productive with it.)

She recommends writing whatever comes to mind when you first wake up for about 30 minutes.  But I’ve found that even if it’s 5 minutes before bed a few times a week, it makes a difference.  Taking time to check in with yourself allows you to attend to your own needs and be more present and mindful throughout the day- including in your food choices.

When I eat like crap I feel like crapThe opposite is also true!

This is a great tool to pull out to help get you through the holidays, too.

Do you journal, either personal journaling or keeping a food diary?

How do you make time to slow down and check in with yourself?

PS- The theme of this year’s January Reset challenge will be learning to eat intuitively.   I’ll announce it in my newsletter first.  If you aren’t subscribed, you can join here!

28 thoughts on “How Journaling Can Help Stop Mindless Eating

  1. I used to journal, right up through having kids and then somewhere along the lines I dropped it. I agree it’s a great way to become more self aware and honest with yourself. Now for me it’s become blogging. I like question why I do certain things to gain insight. Journaling can be a great tool for anyone, although initially it takes discipline to sit down and write about feelings rather than grab a snack.
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted..Finished! Marathon Weekend Highlights in PicturesMy Profile

  2. I journaled a lot through middle and high school and then picked it up again in my early 30s. It definitely was a great place to put my thoughts down on paper. I’ve been meaning to pick it up again but life busyness gets in the way. Thanks for the reminder that it matters. Picking up a journal this week!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Live Actively with prAnaMy Profile

    • I don’t think you’re doing it wrong… it is helpful if food is replacing emotions or serving as an emotional outlet for you. If that’s not the case, you probably won’t see a big difference in your food from journaling. (But it can still serve as a helpful way to process life!)
      Laura recently posted..How Journaling Can Help Stop Mindless EatingMy Profile

  3. Good idea Laura, I actually sometimes think I need to do this….okay, a lot of the time. I tend to mindless eat a lot, especially when I am home all day, it is hard not to! This would make a difference I think, and would also allow me to visualize my goals again, when I did that regularly, they happened, whereas now I have lost the habit of it. Thanks for the reminder!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday- Vegetarian Cranberry and Apple StuffingMy Profile

  4. I do not journal, but sometimes I think I need to, especially if I am stressed about work or food, etc. I should keep one my bed or on my kitchen counter, while I’m sipping coffee in the morning. I actually spent a lot of time home this weekend relaxing and it was nice to just chill; walk the pup; spend time outside; and catch up on life.
    She Rocks Fitness recently posted..What I Bought At COSTCO + Recent EatsMy Profile

  5. Yes! I always kept a journal but haven’t in the last few years. When I was writing regularly, it was such a great way to get out of my own head and figure out what was going on. I recently read about writing “morning pages” and really want to get into that practice. I did it for about 3 days and OMG my days were so much more calm and focused!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Philadelphia Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  6. I’ve been looking for a mindful eating challenge, wahoo! I can’t wait for it, Laura. I don’t journal everything down but really, I should start getting into the habit; there’s just so many things I should do and so much of me to go around that I don’t havr the energy or time. It’s silly, considering that it only takes 5 minutes. Looking forward to the challenge!
    Linda @ TheFitty recently posted..My Superb Paleo/Keto Lunches- Life In Pictures #10 + WIAW #9My Profile

  7. I find it so helpful! used to write it in college and when I’m trying to track, have used fitness pal app. It is helpful but sometimes makes me crazy!

  8. Short comment here just to say I love what you’re writing here lately. always have but I’ve really enjoyed your last few posts! I’m big into journaling and always feel the most connected to myself and able to live a more present and intentional life when I am taking time to journal. I’ve been on and off lately and I miss it! I have the Artist’s Way on my shelf but haven’t read it. Maybe I should.
    Amanda@Runninghood recently posted..A Random Bulleted Thursday Post. And Winner of Dog Leash Giveaway!My Profile

  9. I have to be perfectly honest that my blog, and my online running log, are the only 2 journals I have ever consistently kept! I wonder what I will think when I look back over them 40 years from now (if I am still alive!)
    Raina recently posted..Over the HillMy Profile

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  12. I used to keep a journal, which then became a blog, but lately I haven’t been doing much of either. I found it a great way to record some of my stresses and also to remember what I was doing at that time. Even a race report is good to get down when it’s fresh in my head. Otherwise I end up forgetting most of the important parts and only remembering the bullet points. Photos are also my way of “journaling”. Sometimes a picture does tell a thousand words!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Looking Back: NovemberMy Profile

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