Clients inevitably ask me after I do talks and in coaching sessions, “but what do I eat?” I tell them that I care more about them focusing on *1) high quality “live” foods; 2) lean protein, and 3) adding more Omega 3s to their diet. Then I go into my rap about it being more important to look at how, when and where they are eating. I stress slowing down, eating with awareness, eating at the table (or at least sitting down), and eating without the distractions of technology and information. It is a lot harder than it looks at first and people often struggle a great deal with these new ideas.
Several months ago it occurred to me that a tracking device for my clients’ eating might have some benefits: they could track what and when and how they were eating and I could see a snapshot of what was happening between our sessions. I made it very clear from the outset that I was not at all concerned about calories, fat grams, or amounts. They could list their food in a very general way (roasted chicken, salad with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, roasted vegetables, chocolate cake, etc.) and that I was more interested in looking at the other aspects of their eating experience.
I designed two forms to reflect this:
1. a one-time form for one meal or snack
2. a full-day form
The one-time form was of course simpler to complete and intended to be used in the moment. It includes day/date; time eaten; food and beverages consumed; where it was eaten (home: table, desk, couch, standing in kitchen; work: desk, break room; restaurant; other); activities while eating (no activities; reading a newspaper or book; surfing the internet, reading email, Facebook, other social media); watching TV or streaming videos; working; or other. Included are scales for hunger, stress, enjoyment and a description box for digestion upset and any “aha” moments.
The full-day form includes all of the above as well as information about sleep and movement/exercise.
Once completed on their computer or smart phone, the forms are then sent by email to my client as well as to me. I love reviewing them because the growth my clients are experiencing as well as their unique challenges jump right off the page. The people I work with also like having an opportunity to see in front of them what is working and what isn’t. It is always enlightening for them to see that they continue to eat standing in the kitchen and that it feels really crazy-making to them to just sit at the table when they eat. It gives a place to explore other ways to create space that facilitates nourishing eating experiences. I am able to remind them to breathe, set the table and make it lovely, put on some music, take a moment and savor their food, and so much more.
* Thank you to Jon Gabriel, The Gabriel Method & Marc David, The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Neshama Mousseau, MSW