Would you be surprised by what you actually eat?

It’s cruel… It’s inhumane… It’s a conspiracy of the highest order…

I’m referring to the abundance of easily accessible treats this time of year.  The snicker-doodles.  The gingerbread.  The potatoes and gravy.

If you are usually careful about what you eat, even the strongest among us succumb to an indulgence or two during the holidays.

This time of year, we can give ourselves a pass for losing track of what all we eat, but what about the rest of the year?

Watch what happens when these people record everything they consume over the course of the week, then are truth bombed by a nutritionist.


Would you be surprised by the sugar you consume in a week? How about the amount of fat in your diet?

Do you really know how little nutrition you receive from your normal diet?

If you are planning to improve your health, regardless of your specific goals, you first must have a true understanding and awareness for what you actually consume, day to day.

You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

You can’t consume enough vitamins to overcome a bad diet.

And, you can’t detox and cleanse your body enough to make up for a bad diet.

It all starts with understanding what you are putting in your mouth.

There are a number of different devices available for tracking what you eat.  Some are sophisticated and some are much more basic.

I am one who prefers the basic approach.  If it is too complicated or time intensive, I won’t do it.

I’ll start out with the best of intent, maybe record one or two meals, then I will be overcome by the do-it-later bug.  That is synonymous with ‘never’.

I have an app on my phone that is tied to the Garmin tracker device I’ve worn for two years.  In support of the many functions on the device, the app is also intended to make it easy to record meals and calculate calories.  “All” I have to do is measure, weigh, and type into the interface the contents of each meal.

Yeah, right…  Not gonna happen.

The thought of trying to figure out the size of a serving, or how many ounces of chicken I just ate, or cups of carrots, or quarts of ice cream, is absurd.

I’m a guy… you put it on a plate in front of me, I’ll eat it.  I’m certainly not going to weigh it, first.

But, what I can do — and have done — is simply make a note of what I consumed throughout a day.  And if you do it for a month (or even a week), it can be quite eye-opening.

Long before “there was an app for that”, I used to keep notebook paper on the frig, with simple columns and headings designating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and one more column where I made note of my general performance and feeling for the day.

This was way back in the early to mid 80’s before Camelback Mountain (here in Phoenix) became such a crowded hiking area. Back then, my drive home from work took me between Squaw Peak (that’s what it was called then) and Camelback, making either one a very convenient stop to squeeze in a late afternoon hike for the day.

In those days, Squaw Peak was a well established hiking area, complete with a well defined and maintained trail to the top of the highest peak. From the time I had moved back to Phoenix, after college, I had a personal goal to break 20 minutes from the water fountain to the top of the peak.

For anyone who is familiar with Squaw Peak (now called Piestewa Peak), you know that a sub-20 minute time it is not an easy task.  So to train, I used Camelback Mountain, and my handy little frig chart.

One reason I chose Camelback is because it is quite a bit more difficult to climb.  I don’t know what it is like today (considering the crowds, it might have an escalator and admission fees), but back then, it was steep, lots of boulders to climb, and a slippery, decomposed granite surface.

Camelback was the kind of trail that would let you know in a hurry if it was going to be a good day or a painful one.  By training on Camelback, the trail up Squaw Peak seemed much easier.

So my typical routine, for the better part of two years, was to stop on my way home from work at Camelback, change clothes in the parking lot, run up the mountain, run down, drink some cold water left in the car (they didn’t have a water fountain in those days), run back up, then walk back down.

Each trip up, I used a stopwatch to record my time to the nearest second.  Then, once home, I would make my way to the frig and fill out my food and performance log.

I would note everything I ate that day, and my times up Camelback, along with a notation about my general feeling.

For instance, I might write, “Fast time but felt like I was dragging boat anchors”, or, “Had more in the tank and should have pushed harder on second trip”.

Then, on weekends, I would make a trip to Squaw Peak just to check my time and see how I was progressing on my goal.  I would also use the weekend to review all my log sheets for the week to develop an understanding of my performance as related to my diet.

This discipline did two things for me.

First, it was instrumental in my recognizing a distinct relationship between what I consumed and how it effected my strength and recovery.

And second, I learned to pause before reaching for all those free snacks that kept appearing at the office.  It’s amazing how many donuts and bagels you instinctively reach for when they present themselves.

In addition, all this information I compiled taught me something about my personal diet and how I should eat to find my best performance.

With today’s technology, I am sure there are more sophisticated methods to track a diet and associate it with how you feel or perform.  Whatever technique you choose, you might be surprised by what is routinely consumed, more from habit than intent.

In other words, if an expert followed you for a week recording everything you consumed, are you a target to be truth bombed about your nutrition?

[Applied Health Publications are registered in the United States Library of Congress, ISSN: 1525-6359]