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One Habit week 4 update


Food logging

Well, I continue to consistently log all my food. The alarm on my phone has proved to be a great trigger and using my notes app makes it easy to log my food. While I am being very consistent with logging what I eat, I am not being quite as diligent with logging how much I eat, yet alone managing my portions.


My weight is the same as last week - 168 pounds. This is not a huge surprise as I have only been logging what I eat and not consciously limiting it. I do feel I have been giving myself smaller servings when I make dinner but I cant tell you how much smaller because its not a conscious decision and I am certainly not doing any form of portion control. The other complicating factor is we had a birthday in our house this week so there were more sweets than usual.


I said this last week but while my declared One Habit is to log food (which I am doing), my hope\intention was that this keystone habit would generate more habits. Thus far this has not been the case. My goal of this One Habit is to lose a bit of weight and logging alone will not do that. It has been a month and I think its time to come up with a plan to control portion sizes. The three week mark is typically the danger zone so I want to make sure I keep moving towards my goal of losing some weight.

Weight loss programs

In researching scientifically proven ways to lose weight I have discovered there are two "secrets" to weight loss. First, effective weight loss programs all get participants to eat more healthy food like vegetables. Second, effective weight loss programs get people to reduce their calorific intake - usually through portion control. The Weight Watchers program uses a point system to control portions. The Noom program encourages you to eat "good" foods. You can also use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your exact calorie intake. I know from experience that while all these programs are good and work well for some people, they are too "complicated" for me and am unlikely to stick to them for a long time. 

In the past I have followed the Scandi Sense Diet with some success. The basic idea behind Scandi Sense is that you eat three meals a day each consisting of two handfuls of vegetables, one handful of protein and one handful of fruit\carbs. This worked for me because as I was preparing each meal I could use the four handfuls as template for a balanced diet

The obvious first solution to try would be Scandi Sense. In my never ending quest to find the "perfect" solution for me I decided to see what alternatives are out there.

The first alternative I came across Michael Pollan's three rules for healthy eating - "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." This is certain good advice and its simple but its not specific enough for me. 

Next I came across the "Just eat half" diet. With this you literally just eat half of whatever you normally eat now. This would certainly cut calories, it wouldn't help me eat a balanced diet though. 

Then I discovered a diet called "Half your plate." It consists of one rule - at every meal half your plate must be vegetables or fruit. I like this idea because its simple, its specific, it aligns with my desire to eat a balanced diet. It doesn't help me with portion control however.

The next idea I came across was the using the USDA's "My Plate" program. According to My Plate a person of my age and gender should eat 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables, 7 ounces of grains, 6 ounces of protein and 3 cups of dairy a day. I looked up how to measure these without scales and found that this equates to 2 handfuls of fruit and 3 handfuls of vegetables. The grains and the protein were slightly harder to easily measure.

Then I came across the idea of "Hara hachi bu." Hara hachi bu is a Japanese term meaning “Eat until you are 80% full.” It comes from Okinawa, where they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world and some of the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke. This is a simple way of controlling portions.

My new habit

I decided to combine "Half your plate" and "Hara hachi bu" in to a habit. The first part of a habit is the trigger. My trigger will be "when I am hungry." I will determine whether I am actually need to eat by asking myself if I am hungry enough to eat an apple. 

The second part of the habit is the routine. The routine will be "then I will eat mostly plants until I am satisfied." The term plants covers fruit and vegetables because I want to be able to stick to it every time I eat and I am far more likely to have fruit at breakfast or snack than broccoli. I changed "80% full" to satisfied because its hard to know if you are 79% full and can eat 1% more, 80% full and have had enough or 81% full and have had too much. Dieticians use a 10 point scale to rate hunger from "starving" to "stuffed." "Satisfied" being where you wont need to eat for a couple of hours.

So my habit is:

When I am hungry then I will eat mostly plants until I am satisfied."

My new habit tells me when to eat (as well as when I shouldnt eat), it tells me what to eat (mostly plants) and it helps me not to overeat because I know when to stop.

I will continue logging my good but will also start using my new habit as well.