Food Journal Reflection

Over the course of this summer B term – the most challenging assignment for me was keeping an active food journal. It was a surprising struggle to be mindful in tracking my eating, exercise and sleeping patterns. Initially I perceived my eating habits as very healthy; I exercised regularly and sleep well most nights. And though at the end of this experience I am still as healthy as an eater I assumed I learned that I have few habits I could work to eliminate from my lifestyle. Those habits were stress snacking, and drinking too much coffee and mindless eating at social events. The stress being the biggest proponent of these concerns, and this crossed over into my sleeping pattern and regular exercise.
Looking back at what I logged the first week I noticed some positive trends in my diet/lifestyle. With the exceptions of Sundays, I have the same breakfast, lunch and mid- day snack: a fruit smoothie in the morning, for lunch a veggie salad and lean protein (one teaspoon of olive oil) and for a mid-day snack some mixed fruit or veggies with hummus. I exercised at least four days a week and was active when possible (i.e. walking instead of driving, planning active activities with friends like beach volleyball etc.) and every Sunday I go on a long distance run with a close friend.
However, I noticed a trend that in the evening I tend to not be as mindful of what I eat or the portion size. I also noted that I snack (more than needed) after dinner as well. When looking at my water intake I was not drinking enough and seemed to compensate with too much coffee. I reflected that this over eating or “mindless snacking” occurs at night because my brain is off “school/work” mode and I tend to mull over the various stressors in my life. This is, I am assuming, what is causing me to not sleep as well. I thought I could function on five-six hours of sleep but know we all need seven –eight hours. I saw the trend clearly: stress leads to over- eating/high caffeine intake which effects sleep that curbs energy to exercise. The following week I tried really hard to maintaining my eating habits (which sometimes was derailed due to birthday in class treats!) and not over snack. I started drinking more water and forced myself to go to bed early to get more sleep. I am already seeing the results from it but am still in progress to fully eliminate and improve these tendencies.
I can see how this would be a great tool for students. It could help them and their family track positive and negative eating/lifestyle patterns and become motivated to improve on their diet and lifestyle. Students tracking what they are putting into their body in relations to its effects on their sleep, activity ,health and school work will make them see food as fuel and not just “stuff” they crave or mindlessly eat. This will make them care about what they eat and care about their lifestyle, giving them the tools to carry this mentality into adulthood successfully.
This could also be put into the classroom by integrating it into various subjects such as math, science or writing. Like measuring their food properly, learning what makes up their favorite foods, and keeping a journal that tracks their reflections on the matter. It might seem daunting to my future students to keep a food journal, and I will fully anticipate their resistance (since I had many reservations and struggles with it myself) but once they make it a part of their daily life , the positive effect it will have is sure to leave a lasting impression on their lifestyle. Which, I believe, it paramount in the learning experience for children.


Food for Thought

Recently, I have started keeping a food /wellness journal and the process is reminding me of other reflective tools I will be using as a future educator. At first I was very resistant, but forged ahead with it ( I won’t deny that I actually had to …because it is a school assignment!). The first couple of days I looked at my journal with resentment, but started to realize I did not want to write anything down because, insert dramatic gasp, I didn’t want to take a hard look at my eating, sleeping and exercise habits!
Though I eat relatively healthy and what not, I could improve on a few things. nothing extreme, but have developed some new goals like drinking more water, getting more sleep and trying to lay off the extra three cups of java. With this I have started to think what tools I will use to reflect on my teaching practice. It’s been an easy journey to keep a journal and record my experiences as a student teacher, but will I do this as a teacher? I am hoping to keep reflective journals, in some shape or form throughout my practice and not let personal insecurities or trepidation hold me back from looking clearly at the way I teach. However, if I can keep a food journal, I this will be possible.

Eating and Writing

Summer time for teachers can be simply divine. Warm weather, softer schedules, vacations, traveling and of course the biggest staple of summer: BBQ parties. With this come the ever present indulgences, of various beverages, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream etc.  Having recently attended one, afterwards I thought about what I ate and drank, and was conflicted, “how can it be bad for you if it tastes so good!” It did however; attune my thought back to how this affects our students. We, as educators, want students to be healthy, mind and body when in the classroom. There is no need to drone on about how proper nutrition is an imperative part in student learning, we know this. But what I did reflect on was how we can teach them to eat well but also that it is ok to have that ice cream on a sunny summer day? one way could be to share nutritional tools such as logging what you eat, drink and even go as far to log sleep and exercise.  I am also very mindful on focusing less on calorie counting but on overall balanced diet followed by proper sleep and exercise. The mind and body are interconnected; if one is out of whack it doesn’t take much to effect the other.  This summer I will be thinking about the effect ways to take care not only of my student’s wellness but my own. Staring with a food journal (note: day after BBQ) – bring on the cringe worthy self reflection! Painful now, but happier and healthier in the end!