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Nutrition Challenge Day 1 – Food Journal

🎯 Today’s Mission:

To successfully complete today’s mission:

  • ✅ Keep a food journal of EVERYTHING that you eat today. Try to do it meal-by-meal rather than recalling it all at the end of the day so that you’re more aware in the moment.
  • ✅ Take some extra notes about your meal. Was it planned or unplanned? Were you hungry or just peckish? Did you eat more than you needed to? Did you feel rushed or anxious while eating? Etc.
  • Complete the form at the bottom of the page when done.

💡 More Info:

People who keep track of what they eat consistently lose more weight than those who don’t.

This is something that has been backed up repeatedly by research (1, 2, 3) and is considered to be a safe and effective weight loss technique.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Food logs make us more aware of our eating habits.
  • Food logs keep us honest and accurate about what we eat.
  • Food logs give us a good “State of the Nation” overview of our eating.

🧠 1) Awareness:

Have you ever made a commitment or resolution to stop doing something, only to momentarily forget about it?

People who struggle with biting their fingernails or popping pimples will understand. No matter how strongly you commit to stop biting, no matter how hard you try, it happens automatically…

There are times where you suddenly snap back to reality and realise that you’ve been biting your nails or popping pimples on your face for the past 10 minutes straight.

All that dedication and self-control down the train from a few minutes of mindlessness!

One of the most important aspects of your Challenger’s Journey is to become more aware.

  • Awareness comes before action.
    (Because only once you are aware that a better choice exists can you choose to make the better choice – or take the better action.)
  • Action comes before progress.
    (Because you can only progress by taking action and actually “doing” or implementing rather than just “thinking”.)
  • Therefore, awareness comes before progress.
    (Because awareness lets you make a better choice which leads to progress.)

Knowing this, you can reverse-engineer much of the journey that will lead you to the results that you want.

Whenever you want to progress or improve at something in life, your first step should always be to become more aware. If you forget, then you can’t take conscious action, can you?

This is where your handy journal comes in again, just like with the Mindset Journal last week.

By using a food log, you can create more awareness around what you eat.

Not only does it help you focus on exactly what you are about to eat, but it also creates a pause between when you decide what to eat and when you actually eat it by requiring that you enter the food into your food journal first.

Most of our bad decisions get made in a rush. Very often by just slowing down the eating process, we can make phenomenally better choices with little effort.

The good thing about habits is that, with practice, we can do important things like brushing our teeth, going to the gym, and preparing a healthy breakfast without much thought or willpower.

It becomes automatic and requires very little awareness. The problem is, this applies to bad habits too (which is why it’s so important that you use it to your advantage as much as possible).

  • Building a new habit is easy, especially one as quick and simple as logging your food. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to stack it on top of another existing habit, kind of like piggybacking. In this case, food logging on top of the habit of eating.
  • Breaking an old habit is much harder, especially when it comes to mindless eating and over indulgence which is often fueled by years of diligent practice as well as strong biological and environmental cues. One of the best ways to break an old habit is to replace it with another (hopefully better) habit. In this case, replacing mindless eating with more mindful eating.

Wherever your Challenger’s Journey takes you, you won’t get to the highest pinnacle or peak by accident. Instead, it’s going to be the result of the choices you make and the actions you take, which come from being aware.

😇 2) Honesty, Accuracy, and Accountability:

We all like to think that we are honest and accurate.

But out of the hundreds of thousands of Sleekgeeks in the community, we haven’t found one person (including ourselves) who has never lied or never been mistaken.

Researchers have actually studied the discrepancy between what people think they have eaten and what they actually ate.

The results were not great. Regardless of their good and honest intentions, subjects across every age group and both genders recalled and reported their food intake incorrectly.

They actually ate:

  • More grains, fats, oils, and sweets than they thought they had eaten.
  • Fewer fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk than they thought they had eaten.

This means they ate more carbohydrate-dense and high-calorie foods, and less nutrient-dense, fibrous, and lower-calorie foods than they thought they were eating.

Even if this were to only happen occasionally, over the long run it can be devastating and definitely hinder or undo your progress.

It’s worthwhile mentioning that these subjects were not trying to lie or cheat their way through the study, the researchers were trying to help them. As humans, our perception for this kind of recall is really bad.

Even us at Sleekgeek are regularly surprised by foods that are much higher in calories than we thought (like an innocent pasta salad from Woolworths with 948 calories in it or just how depressingly small a real serving size of peanut butter actually is).

There are also plenty of times where we will honestly forget about a snack that we had earlier in the day, thinking we are doing great until someone reminds us about it.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but your Challenger’s Journey is all about being the hero of your own life. A simple food log will be a trusty weapon in the fight for your health.

For the tool of food logging to be the most effective, you need to enter the food you eat into your food log BEFORE you eat it, or as soon as possible afterwards if circumstances don’t allow you to do it in the moment.

Don’t wait until late at night to try recall what you ate earlier in the day.

📣 3) State of the Nation:

Even for those of you who are confident that you are completely aware, honest, and accurate (you may want to read about the Dunning Kruger Effect first), there is still another huge set of advantages keeping a food log that benefit both newbies and health professionals alike:

  • The ability to get an objective bird’s-eye view of your current diet. As opposed to your subjective and emotional opinion of what you think your diet looks like. What we know and what we do can very often be two different things.
  • The ability to look back over the past few meals, days, weeks, or even months to spot trends or patterns. Your dietary choices tend to change slowly over time, and it can be useful to see if any of these correlates with recent successes such as weight loss or recent problems such as stomach issues or poor sleep.
  • The ability to share your actual diet with others. This could be an accountability partner, the Sleekgeek community, your doctor, or a personal trainer that you start working with. For coaches and health professionals this kind of information can be an absolute gold mine and help rapidly eliminate a lot of guesswork or trial and error when they’re trying to help you.

✍️ How to Log Your Food:

There are many different ways to become more aware and accountable for what you eat, some are more involved than others.

We firmly believe in making things only as complicated as they need to be, not as complicated as they can be.

You don’t need to scrutinize the nutrition label of everything you buy or meticulously count the exact calories of each bite you take. This can be helpful, and maybe is an effective strategy for a short period of time, but most people will find it exhausting, time-consuming, and quite simply unnecessary.

This Challenger’s Journey is about being the best version of yourself, and we doubt that vision includes doing math with every meal.

We will teach you about calories and portion control later on, as they are good to know, but for now we suggest that you select something from the list below:

  • Just write it down. Yep, that’s it. Each time you put something in your mouth you simply write it down. Use the notes app on your phone, send yourself an email, update your Facebook status with it (no don’t really, please!), write it on a piece of paper, write it on your hand, whatever you need to do.
  • Take a photo. This is super quick and easy by using modern technology to your advantage. Every time you are about to eat something, snap a quick photo of it using your camera phone (or if need be, actual camera). This makes it really easy to review later what you ate and spot mistakes or remind yourself about great meal ideas that you really enjoyed. See How You Eat Diary is a great app for this (download for iOS or Android).
  • Send it to a buddy. Building on both the write-it-down and the take-a-photo techniques, a killer accountability tool is to send everything you eat either as a photo or a text via WhatsApp, email, or similar to someone else. Both of you agree to send each other the details of anything you are about to put in your mouth, and if you want you can offer some feedback or encouragement too.

Whichever option you go for, keep it dead simple and easy to do in the beginning.

Over time, you can upgrade your food log if you wish by noting things like:

  • How hungry are you on a scale of 1-10 before you start to eat?
  • How full are you on a scale of 1-10 when you stop eating?
  • Why are you eating? (Do you need to eat? Want to eat? Feel like you should be eating?)
  • Where are you when you are eating?
  • What time are you eating at?
  • How quickly are you eating?
  • Who are you eating with?
  • How much are you eating?
  • Was it an impulse meal or a planned meal?

💖 Be 100% honest:

We spoke about honesty earlier in the context of us being bad at recalling what we eat, but this is also about being honest with yourself.

Whether you log good stuff or bad stuff, it’s all just data. It doesn’t judge you or shout at you, neither will it praise you or glorify you.

You are served best when you use it honestly.

Some people have a tendency to over-exaggerate the good stuff when they log it, and most people have a tendency to conveniently “forget” when things get messy.

Plucking up the courage and integrity to take a photo of that chocolate you ate at 1am and adding it to your food log will serve you far better than pretending it never happened.

Likewise, noting down that you emotionally ate five scoops of ice cream rather than saying it was a planned and controlled 1-scoop treat will help keep you closer to reality and point out where and underlying problem might lie.

If you don’t note those kinds of things down, you may look back in your food log months down the line and be puzzled how come you only have super healthy food listed but no progress to show for it.

More often than not, this is where the “I’m doing everything right but not making any progress” complaint comes from.

EVERYONE has room for improvement, including us. No one is perfect. Being able to identify what areas you need to work on improving next will dramatically speed up your results.

✅ Mission Accomplished?

Fill in the form below once you’re done to keep track of your progress.

Which day of the challenge have you completed?
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