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21 Days of Self-Care: Day 7 - Record Your Intake, Part I: Collect Your Data

My plan was to try to spend just one day on the practice of food journalling, but I didn’t want to leave out the part about what to do with the data you collect, so we’ll talk about that in Part II. This is just a bite-size look at this practice; in the coaching program, this is a 2-week habit! So, as with all the other practices we have covered, feel free to spend more time with the ones that resonate with you. Today we collect the date; tomorrow we’ll analyze it.

Pop quiz – what did you have for lunch 3 days ago?

Since most of us are having a hard time remembering what day it is, it’s understandable if you can’t recall. Most people don’t remember, and when they do, they get it way wrong – like underestimating their intake by up to 1000 calories a day. So we better write it down.

Today I’m asking you to use some method to record every food and drink item you put in your mouth. And I mean everything. “Just cleaning up” after dinner – what we call “not enough to keep” - write it down. Grabbing a handful of M&Ms at 3pm? Write it down.

I say write it down, but you can use any method you want, taking notes on your phone or even taking pictures of your meals (which is good for showing serving sizes).

Record exactly what you consumed and when you consumed it. Record it immediately, since we know memory is suspect. Be as specific and detailed as possible. You don’t have to break out the measuring cups and spoons (because that’s a pain) but be more specific than “a bowl of cereal”; unless you’re taking a picture, you might not remember how big that bowl is (or what kind of cereal). Use your hands for measuring: a palmful of protein, a cupped handful of berries, a thumb-sized serving of peanut butter.

Because we are condensing a bigger project into a smaller frame, there are 2 parts to this data collection as well: 1) Just collect the data, scientifically and objectively, without judgment. What and how much did you actually eat? 2) Collect other, more subjective info: how hungry you were when you started eating, how full when you finished, anything interesting or special about the meal, or noteworthy about the situation. What are you feeling, thinking, doing? Any physical sensations?

Knowing more about your food intake and eating decisions makes you more self-aware. More self-awareness means you are in charge. Just as if you want to be in control of your money, you track your finances, if you want to be in control of your nutrition, track your eating.

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