It is amazingly easy and convenient to feed yourself all the wrong things. You can cheaply fill yourself with highly processed, fatty foods full of refined sugar. It is possible to go days, weeks, months, or longer without eating a green, leafy vegetable or an omega-rich piece of fish. You can sustain yourself with a steady diet of fast-food combos and convenience store options. The question, of course, is for how long and at what price.
At The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, we treat the whole person, which means the emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual components of each individual. Over the years, we’ve learned how important the physical component is to treating issues like anxiety.
Think about examining what you’re eating and drinking. For you to get a balanced picture of your habits, I want you to do this for an entire month. What I’ve found is that people tend to be “good” when tracking for the first week or so but then revert back to reality. You can’t change what you’re doing if you’re not dealing with reality. So go for 30 days. Guidelines for doing this include the following:
Use a separate piece of paper for each day. Keep it with you during the day so you don’t forget to write something down.
- Track what you eat every day, both weekdays and weekends. Many people have different rules for weekends, and I want you to have the full picture. You need to see the pattern of your eating across a broad span of time.
- Continue to eat the way you always do. You may be tempted to modify your eating habits because you’re keeping track, but that will defeat the purpose. You need to be aware of what you’re doing, not what you wish you were doing.
- Write down everything you eat and drink. That means everything that goes into your mouth. Everything counts, including water. You need to know how much you’re eating and drinking and what. Track amounts. Whenever possible, write down the caloric values for each.
For tracking your food, I’d like you to use the categories of the food pyramid: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans, oils, and discretionary calories. For tracking your fluids, I’d like you to use four categories: water, caffeinated, alcohol, and other.
If you’re being especially brave, write down what you’re doing each day in the way of exercise or moving your body. If you’re able, purchase a small pedometer and wear it. This will allow you to see how much you’re really moving your body each day. A healthy body and a balanced system contribute to your overall health and ability to stabilize and maintain your moods. You feel better and sleep better.
Do you have a physician? If so, call now and make an appointment, setting the date to correspond with the end of your tracking so you can bring in the results. If you don’t have a primary care physician, consider finding one and going in for a physical. Bring along your tracking. If you persist in doing this without a physician, be honest about what you’re doing and the changes you know you need to make.
There is an absolute connection between mind and body. They affect each other, for good or for ill. Proverbs 15:3 says, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” What you feel emotinoally affects how you feel physically. As you seek to live a more positive life, looking for the good, don’t neglect the health of your bones.
SOURCE: Chapter 13 in Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace