Logging deviations

A simple, yet effective remedy to fix your diet is to log everything that you eat.

When I notice that the sweets and snacks in the house are quickly disappearing (mostly down my throat), I often start logging what I snack on (the item and the quantity) on a daily basis. I have found that the moment I start this practice, my eating gets cleaned up. However, when I stop logging, in a few days, I got back to my old ways of indiscriminate snacking.

Why does the simple act of writing down what you eat help you eat more healthy?

Daniel Kahneman has popularized the notion of our brain having two different systems – System 1 or the automatic system, and System 2 or the deliberate system. System 1 is the fast thinking, automatic and impulsive part of our brain that acts without a second thought. System 2 is the slow, more deliberate part of the brain that is responsible for cognitive, rational and ‘reasonable’ decisions.

Snacking is often a automatic, habitual response to a particular state of the mind or the body. Often times, this response is unconscious – only when we have finished munching on a piece of chocolate do we even realize it. The act of writing down what your eating shorts this automatic circuit. To write something down before eating it evokes the slow thinking part of the brain, that is more rational, reasonable and in line with what we wish to truly do.

Like a domestic animal, our brains can be trained to serve us. One means to achieve this end isn’t to reach for a carrot or a stick, but for a small notepad where we note down all our deviations.

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