Thoughts on food- The Food diary

Some people may say I’m a fad dieter.

I call it being a scientist and experimenting, where n=1.

Without going deep and long form over my dieting history, it is safe to say there have been ups and downs in both weight and my mental attitude towards it. Mentally I’ve been unhealthy thin and unhealthy fat and really only found a more balanced relationship with it in the past 8 years or so.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 16 years and vegan for almost a year.

It might sound a little counter intuitive but I found having an external reason for making better food choices (ie. apples instead of oreos, vegans eat junk too) and keeping an eye on habits and routines has helped me to make better decisions.

For example, having a generic goal to weight XX kg is not going to work for me unless I give it some context. The weight, outside of the concept of racing weight for runners, is pretty irrelevant. A better statement is to say that if I make better food choices then I will feel lighter, I will have less head fog, I will have less stomach upset, I will be able to concentrate more, it will be better for my overall health, I will recover from workouts better, I will contribute to improving animal welfare or the environment. The list goes on and on and on.

But like everything, it is often easier said than done, otherwise the western world would not have an obesity and associated lifestyle diseases problem (ie. heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, all lifestyle related).

By paying attention to the things I do and the way I behave, I have been able to make a few conclusions about my eating habits.

  1. I eat my feelings
  2. I crave sugar when I’m tired
  3. I fall into routines and struggle to get out of them
  4. I regularly eat when I’m not hungry
  5. Don’t tell me I can’t eat something!

It’s funny how we make up little excuses in our heads for why we do the things we do.

When I first started training for longer events, I could eat what I wanted because I “would burn it off”. Yeah, no.

When I first went vegan, I started eating things I had never eaten in years. I think my diet actually got worse. There’s vegan ice cream, BBQ Shapes are vegan, Onion rings are vegan, the list goes on and on. I started eating junk food just because it was vegan. It was good for the animals and the environment but it was very bad for me.

So, when I started training for the Tarawera Miler I wanted to look at what I was eating and the way that I was eating it with three main goals in mind.

  1. To loose some fat and gain some lean muscle in line with the Racing weight theory
  2. Eat better to recover better
  3. Eat to fuel my runs

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to achieve this but I knew I wanted to incorporate three things.

  1. Food diary
  2. Intermittent fasting
  3. Resistance training

Today I’m going to focus on the food diary. I’m in my forth week of the food diary.

In my food diary I write down what I eat and the time, a total of water and steps taken at the bottom and also my workouts.

Ok I’m going to say something a little controversial and against the grain of every women’s magazine ever published. I also weigh myself everyday. Yep every morning. I get up, pee and poop if required and jump on the scale. Unfortunately the body composition part of the scale is broken (probably due to my big butt) but the weight part works and you know what, I think weighing myself everyday helped to disconnect me from the obsession with the scale.

Why? Well because you realize pretty quickly how ridiculous and irrelevant the number is. If you do weight training, it is a little bit up the next day, have pasta, it’s a bit up, forget to drink your water, it’s a bit down. It’s more about the trend. If I only weighed myself once a week, then the number on that given day might not be a true reflection of my weight loss efforts of the week just because of the food choices I made the day before and how much water I’m holding. By weighing myself every day I can see the downward trend and that’s enough for me.

So the food diary. Honestly,

Does it help keep me accountable for what I put in my mouth? yes
Does anyone read it? no
Would anyone know if I ate junk food all day? No
Have I still eaten junk food all day? Hell Yes!
Does writing it down stop me from making bad food decisions? Nope.

I reviewed by food diary today to write this post and I was a bit mortified. I’m glad it’s not public for the internets to read (Hello trolls!). I ate something “not good” such as Oreos, BBQ Shapes, chocolate peppermint bars EVERY SINGLE DAY since I started it.

No wonder I’m only down half a kg.

Having a closer look it is two main things. Mid morning snacks at work and wherever I stop on the way home. I have a long commute, so if I’ve had a shitty or boring day or if the traffic is going to be bad, I get snacks for the road. Hence the BBQ Shapes, large bags of popcorn or Hungry Jacks onion rings. All very very bad.

But now that I have identified it, I can address it and put some things in place to rectify it.
Would I have been able to do this without the food diary? Probably not.

It could be water or muscle! Haha nah it’s just I’ve been eating crap.

Would I recommend a food diary? Yep definitely. It doesn’t make me obsess but I can understand how for people who lean that way it might not be as beneficial.


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