By Nicole Centeno

Food journaling is a stepping stone and can be a great way to increase your self-awareness and release stress. If you’re thinking about keeping a food journal of your own, check out this Q&A with Nicole for her tips and tricks on getting started!

2017 was a good year. I was (happily) single, the business was doing well, and I lived in a small and affordable one-bedroom apartment that was a few steps from my office. I kept my priorities really simple: my sons, Grover and Caleb, Splendid Spoon, me-time, repeat. I did a lot of yoga and a lot of journaling. Things were nice; peaceful.

Then 2018 hit. In spite of all appearances, we didn’t hit all of our business goals. I moved into a bigger home to accommodate my two growing, active boys. I fell in love, and my priorities shifted to include another person. Most of all, I was delaying the inevitable reality of parting ways with my business partner. I grounded myself in my meditation, my weekly eating routine, and my best attempts to keep my priorities simple: Grover and Caleb, Splendid Spoon, time with Henry, repeat. Notice anything? My me-time fell off the map, and there was far less yoga and journaling in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, a handful of health issues crept in. I have HPV, and it seemed to be getting worse with each pap smear. I needed biopsies. A stressful day would lead to rosacea all over my face: swollen, itchy, and red. The eczema on my hands and feet went from seasonal to incessant. I got a hemorrhoid that would not go away, followed by a UTI that I also could not shake. I realize that this might seem like an overshare, but it’s important to mention because it was truly my breaking point. I could put makeup over my rosacea, and barely anyone needed to know about my HPV, but I couldn’t sit comfortably with a hemorrhoid and I had to pee constantly with UTIs. My physicians, lovely as they are, didn’t have a ton of great advice other than reducing my stress. And there is nothing more annoying to a business owner and mother of two than being told to “reduce stress.” Yet, the physical manifestations of my stress had made it impossible to ignore. I was uncomfortable enough to make a change.

So at the beginning of 2019, I decided to re-prioritize me-time. Food is my foundation, so my me-time included dedicated time with a naturopath and an honest look at my diet. I eat quite well -- lots of veggies during the week thanks to this little thing called Splendid Spoon -- and a little more indulging on the weekends. I’ve been sensitive to sugar, wheat, caffeine, eggs, and dairy since having my kids, so with some coaching from my naturopath, I chose to remove them from my diet. I would do my best to keep these off my plate for at least 4 weeks, but made no extreme claims about eliminating them forever. And I started keeping a food diary.

The food diary had been a great tool years back when I was recovering from disordered eating behaviors. It helped me view my food choices objectively, and to separate the food itself from the anxiety or emotions I was trying to avoid. This time, I was also able to identify new eating patterns:

  1. My foundation is really solid - almost no processed food with lots of whole fruits and vegetables, especially during the week
  2. I’m grateful for the opportunities I get to enjoy eating at nice restaurants and cooking special meals with friends frequently!
  3. I love chocolate
  4. I love chips and salsa
  5. I drink more than I think I do, and food choices get slippery when I’ve had a few drinks. (This was one area I decided to focus on for spring - more on that in another post!)

The full food diary is at the end of this post for you to check out. Within a few days of tracking my eating patterns, prioritizing time for yoga, and checking in with myself, that persistent hemorrhoid went away. My rosacea reactions stopped and my eczema cleared up entirely. And on January 23, when I had a follow up colposcopy to biopsy my cervix for that persistent HPV, the results came back benign. Was it the diet? Maybe. The naturopath? Possible. Or maybe I just needed to put myself back onto my priority list.

Check out Nicole's entire month of food journaling and tracking everything she ate here. Does reading about food have you craving some of Nicole's fave Splendid meals? Check out this week's menu here!