The Bangle Diet

How I ditched my food journal and learned to eat smarter

Do you have trouble keeping a food journal? I do. Truth be told, I loathe it.

Unfortunately, years of experimentation have proven that, for me at any rate, recording food intake is my best tool for truly conscious eating. So, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and my doctor put me on a pre-treatment dietary plan, I grabbed a notebook and started writing.

Dutifully recording my consumption kept me focused on nourishing foods and helped me go into my medical treatments in the best possible health. Still, I struggled with the discipline of the food log and kept wishing I could find a better way.

It was during that time a friend happened to mention a healthy-living program her school had implemented. Students were issued five colored rubber bands representing the target goal of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Every time they ate a fruit or vegetable, they could add a band to their wrist.

Light bulb! I didn’t see myself sporting rubber bands, but bangles would be just the thing. I would need a lot more than five.

I start the day with a stack of bangles on my left wrist. Each bangle represents a serving of food or a beverage. Different colors symbolize different categories: yellows and greens for vegetables; purples, reds, and oranges for fruits; blacks for protein-rich foods; and blues for water. The number of each color represents my dietary goal for the day, such as 5 servings of vegetables.

As I consume each serving, I transfer the appropriate bangle from my left wrist to the right one. What remains is what I have “left” to eat. That’s it.

Easy? Yes. Self-rewarding? Absolutely!

It keeps me conscious. At any moment I can see what I’ve accomplished and how far I have to go. My goals are right in front of me every time I reach in the fridge, prepare food, read a menu, or pick up a fork.

As day draws to a close and my will weakens, seeing the good foods I have “left” to consume prevents me from mindlessly filling up non-goal items. The beauty of the system is I make my decisions in the morning when I’m fresh. When I’m tired, the bangles allow me to abdicate my choices to chipper, morning me.

The bangles keep it positive. It’s about what I should eat, not what to avoid.

At the end of the day it’s “bangles off,” a reset action which keeps me from stressing about what may not have been a perfect record. It’s about achieving today’s goals not creating a distant future self.

Tomorrow is a new day. I think I’ll add an exercise bangle.

©2018 Meg Barclay

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