Tag Archives: food
Food. It’s a wonderful social glue that binds people and cultures together in common practices of preparation, presentation, and consumption. It also happens to be a behavior perfectly positioned for self-tracking. Have I ate too much? Did I get enough vitamins? Am I drinking enough water? Am I drinking too much beer? These introspections can go on almost indefinitely. It should come as no surprise that food tracking is somewhat of a hot topic in the Quantified Self community. We’ve seen many different presentations about how to use simple tools or apps for food tracking over the years. One of the reoccurring themes in many of the experiences we’ve learned about is the simple power of tracking food with pictures.
Ellis Bartholomeus is a game and design consultant who became interested in tracking her food consumption after her friends asked her about he eating patterns. Being the curious type she embarked on a self-tracking project that involved taking a picture of everything she ate and drank. She’s detailed some of her findings in this wonderful blog post. We’re excited to learn more about this ongoing project at our upcoming QS Europe Conference where Ellis will be taking part in our Show & Tell presentations track. Until then, here’s a peek into her what is sure to be an interesting talk.
Ellis began by taking a picture of her food and also informing her friends through Facebook of her intentions. The social pact and the positive reactions of her friends helped to give her that extra motivations boost to keep the poject going. She also mentioned that the simple act of taking a picture provided here with that little extra push to pay attention to her food preparation and not miss too many meals during her busy schedule.
Interestingly, Ellis mentions that the act of photographing her food led her to be more mindful and thoughtful not just about her meals, but also about her day-to-day experiences:
It became a great way to remember how I spent my days, where I was, with whom, very clear reference these pictures, work like very clear anchors in my memory, very joyful to browse through the month foodwise since dinner, breakfast is so often a social occassion, and I was reminded on great conversations and situation while looking at the picture.
We are really excited to have Ellis presenting as part of our Show & Tell track. Make sure to check out our previous conference preview posts as well to get a taste of our amazing community of speakers.
The Quantified Self European Conference will be held in Amsterdam on May 11th & 12th. Registration is now open. As with all our conferences our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!
We’ve posted some great talks by Amelia Greenhall here on the blog and we’re excited to bring you another insightful presentation. Last year Amelia gave a wonderful talk about her weight loss journey and the power of using running averages. In this updated talk Amelia gives a more in-depth look about how using a 10-day moving average serves as an “early warning system” that puts helps put her back on the path of mindful eating. Filmed at the QS Silicon Valley meetup group
Hugo Campos lives with arrhythmia, and is a self-professed data nudist. He decided to do an experiment last December to improve his health and his heart – going vegan and taking beautiful pictures of every single meal he ate to post to a public Flickr set. In the video below, Hugo gives an animated talk about what inspired him, what challenges he faced, and what he learned. Find out if he’s decided to continue eating vegan! (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)
Randy Sargent has an hypothesis that eating certain foods, like tomatoes, makes him irritable and anxious. He asked himself, “How can I structure an experiment on myself so that I don’t know whether I’m eating tomatoes or not?” and “How would I go about quantifying my irritability?” In the video below, he explores ways to go about designing the experiment, with some fun input from the audience. (Filmed by the Pittsburgh QS Show&Tell meetup group.)
Rob Portil is sixty-six years old and has been overweight twice in his life. He’s been using FitBit for the past four months, and has reached his target weight. In the video below, he describes how he experiences the daily tracking, how his sweetheart experiences it differently, which Four Hour Body workouts he does, and some key eating tricks he learned along the way. (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)
In the last session of the day, we had a few experimental talks on noticing how food changes physical condition. It was also an interesting series of talks that shows the importance of collecting our own subjective data to back up or refute the other technological data that we might also have access to.
I kicked off the session with my talk “Quantifying My Genetics: Why I have been banned from caffeine”. My colleagues and friends helped me quantify my behavior after one, two, or three cups of coffee by giving my agitation a number from 0-10.
I found out that I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer from my genetic results and it seems like there is a correlation between how caffeine affects me and my genes. My genes are not deterministic, I couldn’t have known how caffeine affects me without making my own independent observations.
On a fun note, the crowd guessed that I had one cup of caffeine today, they were right, I had a cup of tea earlier down in the restaurant, away from the conference.
Next we had Martha Rotter who talked about how she experimented with her diet to solve her skin problems after doctors told her there was not much she could do. She did one allergy test where the results said she was allergic to chicken and soy- but after cutting out both of those foods, she did not see any changes but it gave her the idea to test different food groups.
After her experiment with a chicken and soy-less diet, she tried a few other food groups, eventually hitting on cutting out dairy. Her skin cleared up within two weeks of stopping drinking milk, eating cheese.
I think the take away message from our two sessions this afternoon, don’t be afraid to do your own testing, trust in your results.
Robin Barooah gives an insightful talk below on embodied learning. He used a binary self-tracking system, without keeping any of the data, to train his body to know what foods made him feel energized or lethargic. This awareness helped him to lose 45 pounds over the course of several months, but more importantly, it serves as a model of the power of self-tracking to develop intuition and well-being. (Filmed at the inaugural Quantified Self Silicon Valley meetup hosted by Stanford’s Calming Technologies lab.)
Cedric Yau trains in kung fu 12 hours a week. He wanted to track his his activity and energy levels, so he created a text-messaging service called Well+Tuner, where he also records notes for how he feels on different days. He learned how to time his food intake and 50 daily supplements for maximum energy, correlated his dating success with his mood, and discovered which exercises were most helpful for healing from an injury. A great self-experimentation story! (Filmed at the June 2011 New York Show&Tell meetup)
Sam, age 9, is the son of my Wired colleague Fred Vogelstein and his wife Evelyn Nussenbaum. Last year, Fred published a remarkable story in the New York Times magazine, Epilepsy’s Big Fat Miracle, about how he and Evelyn treat Sam’s epilepsy with a high fat and nearly zero carbohydrate diet. In an average week, Fred wrote:
Sam consumes a quart and a third of heavy cream, nearly a stick and a half of butter, 13 teaspoons of coconut oil, 20 slices of bacon and 9 eggs.
This dietary treatment dropped the number of Sam’s seizures from more than a hundred a day to about 30; the addition of two drugs got them down to fewer than six.
Fred’s account is fascinating, please go read the whole thing. I called him soon afterward to ask him some questions about how exactly he tracks Sam’s diet so closely. A few days later I interviewed Evelyn. Keep in mind that Fred and Evelyn are not tracking only calories, but also the composition of the food Sam eats.
Fred gives a brief picture of how they do it in his story:
Evelyn, who gave up her career to take on the now full-time job of feeding Sam, plans meals on the kitchen computer using a Web-based program called KetoCalculator. It is hard to imagine how to administer keto without it. A meal for Sam might have eight ingredients. Mathematically, there are potentially millions of combinations — a bit more of this; a bit less of that — that gets you to a 400-¬calorie meal and a 3-to-1 ratio. KetoCalculator does the math. Every ingredient — butter, cream, bacon, oil, eggs, nuts and fruit — is weighed to the 10th of a gram on an electronic jeweler’s scale. When Evelyn comes up with a recipe that works, she hits “print” and files it in a black loose-leaf binder. We now have more than 200 recipes.