Most of us have probably seen these “what I eat in a day” posts from our favourite health gurus. They are intriguing for a reason. What do these people – who we admire and who preach about healthy nutrition and eating habits, eat every day? Do they order salads with their burgers, or ask for the bun-less version? Your curiosity is valid, and it’s human nature to mimic the people we admire.

Ok, full transparency. This isn’t really a food journal post. I’m not going to share “a day of eating in the life of a health coach.”

I can’t speak for all the Healthcare professionals out there, but I can speak from my experience both personally and professionally when I say… it doesn’t matter what we eat.

Let me explain.

Everyone is different, including their responses to food.

Different people respond to the same food and patterns of eating with different responses – metabolically and psychologically speaking. Let’s unpack that a little.

If you’re someone who is over-nourished and under muscled, your metabolism is going to handle energy from foods differently than someone with a healthy body weight and greater amounts of muscle mass. Skeletal muscle is the primary tissue for maintaining and supporting healthy blood sugar levels. For most of us, that means elevated and consistent mood and/or energy throughout the day.

But there are other factors to consider, like our personal preferences and values. Most of us want to eat in a way that supports our health goals, but not at the expense of our values and dietary preferences. If our nutrition and eating habits don’t align with the things we care about, it’s going to feel like a constant struggle. Long term, it won’t matter what health benefits are being preached by our favourite guru.

Then, there are the psychological responses to our food environment. Food is more than a bundle of nutrients or a source of fuel. It can bring people together and make us feel happy and safe, or provoke feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. In addition to losing fat and/or increasing muscle tone, we want to eat in ways that makes us feel good too.

To bring this full circle…

There is so much more to our nutrition and eating habits than what we eat in a day. It doesn’t matter what a health coach eats because we all have varied and highly individualized responses to food.

By the way, I do not wish to discourage anyone from exploring or consuming this type of content. It can be helpful and informative to learn what others are doing. Copying what others are doing, without considering YOU as an individual, is where the potential harm lies.

Food journalling as a tool.

As someone who personally struggles with journalling of any kind, I recommend this activity with full and complete awareness of the struggle. I know it’s not easy. It’s potentially triggering, so please consider that factor before moving forward with this activity. Although tedious, it can also be illuminating – for better or for worse. I choose to focus on the “better” side of things.

Short periods of tracking (3-7 days, 1-3x per year) are better than nothing.

Unless you find it helpful or enjoyable, keep it short and sweet. Shorter periods of tracking can still uncover helpful information. More importantly, it helps to reduce the friction commonly associated with this activity – time.

Instructions: keep it simple, folks. Choose a tracking method that you like (or don’t mind). In addition to “what you eat in a day” capture anything personally meaningful to you, including physical or emotional responses to your nutrition, eating habits and food environments.

What do you eat in a day? That’s the real question.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash