I have been using a phone app for the last 10 days to log what I eat. Have you ever done this and really, genuinely calculated what you eat? The app I’m using not only keeps a food record but tells me how many calories I have had, and the nutritional content of my daily intake – protein, fibre, sugar, fats, some vitamins, some minerals, and so on. So for the first time, rather than presuming my diet is balanced, I can see whether or not it actually is.
I have to admit I have been rather astonished. In the last ten days I have not hit the protein, fibre, potassium or iron targets at all, and have only hit the vitamin A targets once (and that was only through eating probably a months’ worth of butter!)
I have also over the last few days had a couple of complete pig-out days, eating far too much of all sorts of foods. You would think this would at least have enabled me to meet all the targets, even if I’d gone vastly over the fat and sugar limits, but no! Even then I was very low on a number of things.
Such knowledge, of course, could easily lead to obsession, of the “I can only have carrots and pistachio nuts for supper” variety. This is a real danger when measuring nutrition so precisely. But at the same time it could also lead to a much clearer picture of what a balanced diet actually is and what foods really are good – or bad – for you as an individual.
The temptation is there, of course, to supplement and medicate. A multi-vitamin and mineral pill twice a day, a tub full of protein powder milkshake mix, and several ispagula husk capsules each day and my dietary problems would be over, right? You know, I actually don’t believe this at all. Supplements are there to support a balanced diet, not replace one.
So what is to do? Do I continue to measure and watch as the numbers (mostly) fail to add up? Do I allow myself to enter ‘obsession’ mode? Do I go and spend a fortune at the health food store? Do I delete the app and stick my head in the sand? Do I continue to eat an unbalanced, almost certainly bad-for-me diet? Or do I try and make real changes?
Whatever I do, its a harder decision than it sounds, believe me!