Every now and again it’s a good idea to take inventory. You know, like how any good business pauses for a moment to take stock of what they have, but on a more personal level. It never fails to baffle me how disconnected I (and others I know) can be from what we are really doing from what we think we are doing. And no place is more susceptible to this than the diet.
Let’s take me, for instance. Before I went to Iceland I noticed Matt and I spending more and more money on groceries every week. Why? We did have a few special occasions, but even beyond that I was constantly running to the store. It was little things, such as needing an extra 1/2 gallon of Almond milk mid-week or running out of bananas or needing to buy more Wasa bread by Thursday. Mostly it was healthy food but still, it was MORE.
So I took a little inventory of what I was eating by way of a website called Spark People. It’s pretty cool and even better – it’s free. You can record your food intake, your fitness but also set goals and even talk about what inspires you. Being a busy person who is already on the internet far too often, I stuck with the basic tool of recording my exercise and food intake.
Good thing I did. Here I thought my diet would be classifed as “high protein” and most days I wasn’t even getting the minimum 20% protein recommended. So, that means the rest of the calories were divided up between fat and carbs, right? Well, yes, but many days I was eating 35-40% fat! Holy Smokes! That is quite a bit, and what blew me away was how little I had to eat in order to tip that scale. A spoonful of peanut butter in my oatmeal + 1/3 an avocado at lunch and a stir-fry made with Olive oil really adds up. I’d say it was mostly healthy fat, but I would have guessed my diet to be 40% protein, 20% fat, and 40% carbs. The recommendation for fat is about 30% of total calories. Thus, if I took the other 5-10% and invested them in protein, I would have been more in balance. Also, sometimes for me when I eat a food with fat, I’m also getting carbs (like oatmeal and peanut butter). Protein is often last on my list of preferences, yet having lean protein makes my body food good. Why did I need a website to remind me of that??
I wish there was some little indicator I could buy that let’s me know when my proportions of food are out of whack…..oh wait, I do have those little indicators. I had my excess grocery bill (which basically told me that we were just eating too much – and we were!). I also had my energy levels and my digestion. I was overeating too often and therefore feeling sluggish and I wasn’t so….err…..regular.
I suppose I’m sharing all of this with you because I thought I would be immune to the pitfalls of an imbalanced diet. I mean, I am a “health professional” after all, spending my days studying the very topic that was slipping right under my nose. Ha!
Every lifestyle change program I’ve ever seen talks about the importance of documenting what you eat, drink and exercise. It makes sense. Even the keenest, best-intended person can be very off track and habitually being off track has consequences like weight gain, food cravings, and a thin wallet!
Now that we are back from Iceland we are back to our modest calorie intake ways. Last week I only spent $65 on groceries and $6 of that was on toilet paper. Granted, we did eat out a couple of times but we also had a house guest, so I think it evened out.