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.

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How High Can You Jump ?

The end of the school week on Friday was one filled with intense focus, competitiveness and emotions strung high. I am talking about a relay race involving hula hooping and jump roping, and rhymes created by the various groups. My group came up with a dolphin rhyme to jump rope to (inspired by the dolphin card we picked). It was a fantastic reminder how everyone, old and young needs a little friendly competition and exercise to get you off the couch/out of the desk and re-start your brain. It made me think of how I would give my students a break that incorporated some exercise and working with others. Some of my favorites in class games I recall on are musical chairs, scavenger hunts and some spirited relays (for the classrooms that had an entrance to the playground). Not only does it burn off some mid morning energy, it also wakes you up post lunch. Making one more alert and attuned to a lesson to follow afterwards.