I’m excited about this next week’s challenge and hope you will be as well. I think it is a particularly good one if you have slipped from being fully dedicated to our Spring Skinnie Healthy Living Competition. Why not jump back into fully participating with us through this challenge?
Let me introduce the challenge by sharing an article written by Brigid Moss the health director of Red Magazine:
“You would think I'd know exactly what I eat each day - after all, it's me who picks up my food and puts it into my mouth. And as the health director of Red, a women's magazine, being careful about eating well is my job.
But four months ago, it struck me that I never really looked at my food - and you probably don't either. For while we are fairly aware of what we eat every day, few of us ever take the time to consider exactly how much we consume and what the elements of our meals are.
With this in mind, in April I started really looking at my food - in fact, I started photographing it . And the effect it's had on me is remarkable.
This strange plan was born out of necessity - for several months I'd been putting on weight and had no idea why. Every time I stepped on the scales I knew something needed to be done.
So when I heard there is a new theory that photographing food can make you lose weight by making you painfully aware of your consumption, it seemed the perfect solution: a sensible way to work out what I was doing wrong and, hopefully, slim down in the process.
Armed with a camera I vowed to record every item I ate in a food diary.
The project began on a Monday with my usual breakfast at home: two pieces of rye toast spread with cashew nut butter, which I tried to make appear as pretty as possible on the plate - a habit which continued through the day as I had a salad for lunch, a trio of rice cakes for a snack, and a stir-fry for dinner.
The psychological effect was dramatic. Every portion size was painfully obvious and there is no avoiding the amount you are actually consuming.
Since the first day of photos, I haven't had a second helping; I could tell from the pictures one plate is plenty.
Going out for dinner proved embarrassing - thankfully other diners assumed I was a tourist when I started snapping away - though my husband was indifferent, having witnessed countless crazy health fads in the past.
The photographs in week two proved I am definitely not able to resist temptation when it comes to food: several chocolate bars show up which I stole from my husband's secret stash in moments of weakness.
It's incredible how predictable these cravings are - when the pictures show a huge amount of food eaten in a single day, I can work out it was a time when I was tired or stressed.
Tiredness shows. When I travelled abroad on a family holiday, by the evening I arrived exhausted and turned to chocolate. The journey home had a similar effect: incriminating photos document chicken satay, Thai fishcakes and a creamy coconut curry that day.
Conversely, I also realized when I looked back through the images that I comfort eat when I'm happy, having chicken burger and chips or some sweets on a relaxing Saturday.
Some days I was shocked by what I'd eaten - a bowl of cornflakes after dinner, a whole bag of yoghurt raisins, my son's breakfast as well as mine: things I usually choose to forget.
Yet despite those bursts of unhealthy eating, it's reassuring to see that lots of the dishes contain plenty of greens. I've always been so busy worrying about avoiding unhealthy food that I've never noticed how many vegetables I eat.
The pictures made me accept that you can't eat perfectly all the time, so there's no point beating yourself up over it. I know now that I eat well most of the time and that's enough.
I love looking at pictures of meals people have cooked for me. My husband's shepherd's pie and chicken noodle soup look delicious, and remind me how much love goes into cooking.
I also have happy memories from the photos, and understand how nice sharing can be - the cheese and bread on snow when we had a family picnic at a ski resort, the dim sum lunch with friends and the vegetable pie I ate at the Natural History Museum when I took my son there for a day out.
By week three, taking the pictures meant I had become fixated on what I was eating. Looking back, though, I can see that there was a self-discipline creeping in because I was being confronted every night with what I'm putting in my stomach.
Portion sizes gradually shrank, and knowing what I'd eaten meant that if one day I'd overindulged, the next I deliberately ate less.”
You’ve guessed it ladies this week’s challenge is:
1. Take a photograph of every bite you eat and every gulp you drink.
2. Before going to bed at night look through the photos
3. If possible become more accountable by sharing the photos daily with someone.
4. This does not override your assignment to also enter daily into myfitnesspal.com
5. I’d love it if you want to share any of your photos with me!
There is quite a bit of recent research that shows that photographing your food can be even more powerful than merely writing down what you have eaten. So let's give it a try!