Millions of people are going to open gym memberships and throw out their half-eaten ice cream cartons to go vegan tomorrow in hopes of having a healthy 2016 despite this plan being ineffective in 2015 and likely 2014 as well.
My advice, especially for teachers? Don’t try either of these things… yet.
As a teacher, I have found that sudden changes to my diet or habits don’t go well. Like bus drivers and production line workers, teachers have limited and pre-defined windows of time in which to eat and use the bathroom. The changes that we make to our diet and habits often need to be thoughtfully considered before implementation.
Teachers are also harsh self-critics. Rather than immediately punishing yourself for enjoying the holidays complete with desserts and a lack of papers to grade, take some time to listen to your body.
Why I Committed to Food and Mood Journaling
When I was working through chronic headaches, I used basic internet research to try eliminating inflammatory or problematic foods like dairy, coffee, corn, peanut butter, etc. This was disastrous for my digestive system and disappointing; none of these changes had any impact on my headaches and eliminating coffee turned me into a downright nasty person.
I eventually got to a general practitioner, then a neurologist, a physical therapist, and finally a chiropractor who understood my spine. In spite of varying rates of success with my headaches, the first thing that I was asked to do at every doctor’s office was to write down some variation of what I was eating, drinking, feeling, thinking, etc. My automatic reaction to being asked to document my every action is annoyance and frustration. What I could possibly discover about myself that I didn’t already know?
In spite of my pessimism, I learn something every time I complete a Food and Mood Journal. For example, I’ve learned that my stomach doesn’t do very well with dairy, especially milk chocolate, and that I should avoid exercises that require jumping. I have also learned that meditation increases my patience in the classroom and lowered my stress levels.