Wrap sandwich on a plate with blueberries
Wrap sandwich on a plate with blueberries

What I Eat in a Day: July 2018

| 2 Comments

You’ve seen them. The posts on Instagram where someone shares a collage pic of all the food they ate in one day. It’s intriguing, kind of like peeking in on someone else’s daily habits, observing something we don’t typically see unless we actually sit down and share a meal with them. (Or every meal with them.) It’s not new, of course. I was first introduced to the idea of a daily food photo log by another dietitian, Kath Eats Real Food, who’s been documenting her food in blog form since 2007.

A friend suggested several months ago that I should give it a try, and honestly it’s taken me this long to remember to photograph everything I ate all day for a full day. I’d usually start strong with breakfast and forget by dinner, and then remember again after the evidence had been swallowed.

This day was a healthy one, overall. But I’d like to post a not-so-perfect day at some point too. Dietitians most definitely don’t always eat well. We try to do our best most of the time, but get waylaid by the same stuff everyone else does: cravings, parties, laziness, convenience, and cupcakes.

Let’s start with breakfast. I’d prepped some of my own recipe for chia pudding over the weekend, and it made for quick work in the morning before I headed to the office; just added toppings and off I went. Because of the season I swapped out the pomegranate and put blackberries and peach in its place, and the tablespoon of unsweetened coconut is for crunch.

Bowl of chia pudding topped with fruit and coconut

I took two beverages to the office with me. For the morning, green tea in a travel mug, and some homemade coconut La Croix for lunchtime.

Travel mug and canning jar full of hot tea and iced tea

Lunch was a Coconut Crunch Wrap with blueberries on the side, which I ate at my desk. I don’t typically make and eat my own recipes every day, but as I was writing this post I realized that’s exactly what happened this time.

Wrap sandwich on a plate with blueberries

My afternoon snack was a square of chocolate. It was definitely from Theo, and I’m fairly confident it was their Pure 85% Dark.

Fingers holding a piece of dark chocolate

Dinner was Yellow Bean Salad from 101 Cookbooks. As you can tell from the picture we used green beans instead. For a lazy side dish we made cheesy toast using Silver Hills Bakery bread.

Bowl of green bean and tofu salad with a side of cheesy toast

My beverage at dinner was an ice-cold La Croix.

Can of pineapple strawberry la croix

Here’s how the numbers shake out. I did great with fiber and protein, but not so great with fat: 1540 calories, 78 g fat, 33 g saturated fat, 56 g protein, 160 g carbohydrate, 39 g fiber, 66 g sugar, 1605 mg sodium, and 25 mg cholesterol. If you’re interested in the macros, it was 15% protein, 42% carbohydrate, and 46% fat. Yikes on the fat. The recommended breakdown for these energy-yielding nutrients is 10-35% protein, 45-65% carbohydrate, and 20-35% fat. See, even dietitians go off the rails sometimes because chocolate. (Also, I inadvertently ate 3 meals that all included some form of coconut, so that’s pumping up the total and saturated fat values, too.)

Now that I see this all laid out in front of me, it makes me think it would be a good tool for anyone who’s trying to improve their diet. My first recommendation to a client, student, or a friend would always be to document how they’re currently eating. We used to tell people to do it old school, with a pen and paper. Now there are a million and one food tracking apps available that make it much more handy, since many of us have our phones with us at mealtimes.

But photographs take it to a whole other level. Part of the value of logging what you eat is in looking at the list at the end of the day and assessing your choices and helping you see the bigger picture of your diet versus a single meal or a single food. Logging it in photo form provides even more detail and visual evidence of exactly what you consumed. My students always say keeping a regular food diary is eye-opening. I’d venture a guess that a photographic food diary is even more so.

Well, there you have it. A day in the life of a professional food nerd. I’m not sure if this will be slightly interesting or highly boring for you. I suppose if it’s the latter, you’ll just skip this one and wait for another more useful post on the best drinks to order at Starbucks or best places to eat in Vancouver, BC. Fair warning: my plan is to try a few more daily logs like these, especially as the seasons change and my diet evolves from summer salads and sandwiches to fall soups and such. If only I can remember to snap the photos before I dig in…

 

Have you ever documented a full day of your eating in pictures? Did it make you view your choices any differently when you saw them all together?

2 Comments

  1. Highly interesting!

    I’d love to see more of these. I dig your lunchbox posts as well. I’ve never considered a photographic food diary, but I’m taken with the idea and will give it a shot.

    I go through phases in which I keep a food log of some form. For funs and for the sake of pretty colors, I once kept a daily pie chart of how I “ate the rainbow.” At first, I attempted accuracy by calculating percentages based on food weight, but that proved too much work (imagine several days of weighing everything green in a salad, then everything red, then everything… ). After that, it was just perty-circle guestimating.

    Currently, I’m calculating energy and rough protein intake. I jot numbers on a small pad I keep with my scale or on scrap paper or on the backs of junk mail envelopes. I don’t worry about collecting data beyond one day, and I only really think about it when I’m home. If I eat out, I may later write something like “big honkin’ burrito” or “greater-than-or-equal-to 200 grams of the best guacamole ever.”

    Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why I do it anymore. It made more sense when I had a concrete physical goal (started with hustle-for-the-muscle macro counting). I do enjoy being mindful of what I eat, and any sort of record keeping seems to encourage that. Also, I’m told by non-recorders that I must need to feel in control. Perhaps I do!

    Anyway, thanks for another fun professional food nerd post. What the heck, I’ll start taking pics tomorrow.

    Best,
    Casual Food Nerd (CFN)

    • It is such a valuable tool when you have a goal, like lowering sodium or raising fiber intake. Otherwise, as you note, it mostly just helps with awareness or being mindful of our choices. Your “ate the rainbow” project sounds like an assignment we use in Stats and Fats where we ask the students to keep track of some health-related metric and then design their own data visualization to communicate the results. Their submissions were unique and colorful and way more fun to grade than typical homework.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts. I often say I feel like I send them out into the interwebs and am sort of dumbfounded to find out anyone actually reads them. So your comments provided evidence of this and made me smile.

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