Food and Feelings Flowsheet

Hi! Long time no see.

You may have noticed it’s been a full.three.years since I’ve posted. A lot has happened. I’ve had another child (I’m a mother of THREE!). We’ve moved back to our home town. (Woo hoo!) I’ve redesigned the site to reflect who I am now. I look back on some of my old posts and it’s interesting to see how I’ve changed and grown over the past 3 years. I’m not as strict in my outlook on food and life. Life is more flexible and fluid and less rigid than I once thought.

I’ve still been working as a Registered Dietitian. I love my field. There are struggles in my daily tasks but I have fulfilling moments every.single.day.

That being said, there is stress. Sometimes it’s work stress, sometimes it’s life stress. Sometimes it’s I-don’t-know-why-it’s-there STRESS. But it creeps up on me and sometimes consumes my happiness and health and I have to kick it back into the back seat and say NO! You will NOT steal my happiness and fulfillment! You are a simple emotion and you will be dealt with!

I have begun to notice a war within us all. Something I have been passionate about from the very beginning but am just now wrapping my brain around due to the need to fix my own struggles with it.

Emotional Eating.

We all have these feelings – sometimes feelings that are too big for our bodies. Sometimes feelings we can’t even recognize in our own selves until after we have done some damage to ourselves accidentally. The recognition – that is the hard part. To realize after half a bag of chips or cookies is gone that the food is trying to take the place of some kind of comfort in your heart – that is difficult to realize, even in your own professional “registered dietitian” have-it-all-together self. 

If you struggle with this…don’t we all? I don’t think there is a person out there who hasn’t grabbed for a pint of ice cream, a bag of chips or a box of cookies when feeling lonely, stressed, isolated, sad, unhappy, etc.

Do you recognize it, though? Do you stop. Part of the way through your box. Do you say…Am I eating for nourishment or am I eating for emotional fulfillment? Let me tell you – a bag of cookies never emotionally fulfilled me for more than a second.

And then my tummy hurt.

So I had to search. Search for a solution. Search for a way to battle this emotional eating monster. Search for the anti-grab-a-chocolate-when-I’m-feeling-down. Sugar-high-will-make-it-better. Eat-a-sweet-treat-to-relax.

The best thing I could find was awareness.

Become aware of your emotions. But not just your emotions – the foods that go along with it. Journal the HECK out of that stuff. So I created the Food and Feelings Flowsheet.

I use the Food and Feelings Flowsheet when I FEEL like my FOOD and my FEELINGS are just a little too friendly together. When food is trying to ameliorate my feelings, I know there is a problem. When feelings are the source of my cravings for food — I know there is a problem.

I would love to share my “Triple F” solution with you, so here it is and I hope that it will bring awareness to how Food and Feelings relate. I just ask for 3 days. Journal your food and your feelings side-by-side for 3 days and see if you find any patterns. You may be surprised, and you may not be surprised…but if there is an emotional eating pattern this is where it will show.

The Food and Feelings Flowsheet is simple and you can create it yourself. I am working on a printable PDF for you as well. Take any piece of paper (or a page in your Bullet Journal). Draw a line straight down the middle. Title the column on the left “FOOD”. Title the column on the right “FEELINGS”. Then start tracking. Every time something edible goes in your mouth, you write that thing on the left hand column. This is about becoming aware of what you are eating and when. It doesn’t have to be exact. We aren’t getting out the measuring cups here. This isn’t a weigh-your-food type of program. It’s helpful to have a time stamp to it, though (to look for patterns). Then, after you eat it, I want you to journal three things: Ask yourself these questions —

  1. What was I feeling before I ate this food?
  2. What was I feeling WHILE I ate this food?
  3. What was I feeling after I ate this food?

Keep your descriptors simple. Sad. Anxious. Happy. Frustrated. Annoyed. Unhappy. Happy. Elated. Excited. 

Then scan your FFF for patterns. Does Anxiety lead to an unhealthy FFF? What about annoyance? Unhappiness? Loneliness? Etc? 

I promise you that if you struggle with weight or emotional eating, this exercise will bring awareness to what is actually going on. Only then can we work together to find creative solutions — finding other ways to calm these feelings that are food related. I must agree that it is not an easy thing to do. But it is worth it. Because you can’t deal with your feelings and your food responses until you know what they are.

Cheers to your health – emotional and physical! We are all trying to figure this thing out together and we will get there, I promise.

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  1. Brenda left a comment on July 18, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    This is a great idea, to actually write down the answer to those questions when you eat. That way it’s easier to go back and find a pattern about your feelings and the time of day, etc.

  2. Shameez Patel left a comment on July 22, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I’m an emotional eater, I do believe that I am making progress ❤ will definitely use this as well.

  3. Janiel left a comment on July 22, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I have such a problem with this. After my trauma I put on about 60 lbs because I was not feeling anything actually. Now the more I am recognizing the pain, anger, anxiety the less I’m reaching for those daily shakes from Neilsons Custard. Not to mention the cortisol levels 😪 – it really helps me to not be my own worst enemy knowing that you struggle with this as well. Thanks for the insight.

    • Samantha left a comment on July 23, 2017 at 1:07 am

      I truly do!! I actually did create that PDF so let me know if you want me to send it to you, but it really is a simple as journaling. I don’t think there is a person in the world who doesn’t struggle with emotional eating. It’s truly engrained into your psyche. Being a Dietitian and having all the knowledge of what nutrients are best, etc., really doesn’t change that and in fact sometimes it turns you into even more of your own worst enemy (the whole – I wish I were ignorant kind of thing because then I wouldn’t know how bad this is for me :P). I think overall, though, I’ve learned how to balance it out enough to where I feel like I can nourish myself properly. I certainly didn’t learn that in school though. Thanks for the comment!

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