A food diary is the most powerful solution to improve concentration.

Health and Diet

How to create strong eating habits that will make you less likely to lose control of your run to junkie foods.

In the previous article, I introduced a diet to improve concentration.
The magic diet that improves brain function just by eating
Also, I have written the following article on what you should know as a prerequisite regarding concentration.
How to Improve Your Concentration Fourfold
I would like to use the metaphor of the beast and the trainer again.
If we follow the explanation in the above article, the beast corresponds to the “impulse” or “limbic system” and the trainer corresponds to the “reason” and “prefrontal cortex”.

Once you know what foods help you concentrate, the next thing you should try is to record them.
Keep a daily record of how well you are practicing “MIND” so that you can see the results.
It may seem like a hassle, but the effects of “MIND” will vary greatly if you don't record it.
As an example, let's look at a study from the University of Sheffield.
Benjamin Harkin, Thomas L. Webb, Betty P. I. Chang, Andrew Prestwich, Mark Conner, lan Kellar, Yael Benn, and Paschal Sheeran (2016) Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment?
This is a meta-analysis that statistically processed the data of 19,951 people from previous studies on the “effects of record keeping” and has high scientific credibility.

The study focused on the question, “Do records improve health? and checked its impact on weight loss, smoking cessation, and dietary changes.
There are two main points that I learned from this.

  • The more you keep track of your daily activities, the more healthy food you will eat.
  • The more times you record, the better your eating habits will be.

You will definitely get more results if you keep some kind of data every day.
The statistical effect size is quite high and this is a very effective psychological technique.
The reason why the record is so highly effective has to do with the beast's characteristic of disliking difficult things.
For a beast that prefers clarity, “eat a brain-healthy diet” is too abstract, and the biggest problem is that “MIND” takes a certain amount of time to take effect.
This fact is painful to a beast that only has a short term perspective, causing the feeling of, “Wouldn't it be better to eat something that provides calories more easily? or “my usual diet is good enough”.

Another drawback is that the beast is not interested in long-term goals and will soon forget about the “MIND” goal.
It doesn't matter how many times the trainer says, “I'm going to improve your concentration! No matter how many times the trainer says, “Increase your concentration,” the animal will ask, “Why should I change my diet? That's the end of the story.
Soon you will be pulled back into the power of the beast, and you will return to your original diet.
The “Record” solves these problems.

If you keep a record of your daily activities, you will be able to clearly see your progress, and you will have the energy to wait for it to take effect.
Every time you record a goal, the existence of the goal is communicated to the beast, so there is no problem of forgetting.

If you can continue to “MIND” without difficulty, there is no problem, but only a few people will be able to change their ingrained eating habits right away.
We hope you will incorporate the power of records into your lifestyle.

Just circling the “protected days” on the calendar can help.

Let's also look at a specific recording method.
“There are several recording methods that can increase the effectiveness of MIND, but here are three of the most common, in order of level.
If you are not familiar with the recording process, start with the easy part first.

Level 1: Simple Check

The easiest way to do this is to circle the days on your calendar when you were able to follow the “MIND” guidelines.
This alone will make it easier for you to keep track of where you are and what your goal is, and it will motivate the beast.

You can circle only the days when you did not eat foods that are bad for your brain.
It is important to increase the nutrition that your brain enjoys, but before that, it has been found that concentration is easier to achieve if you reduce the amount of foods that are bad for your brain.

Many data also show that writing by hand on paper is more effective than digitally.
Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer (2014) The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand over Laptop Note Taking
If you have a favorite notebook or calendar, use that.

However, you can also use a digital device if that makes recording too tedious.

Level 2: MIND scoreboard

This is a method of scoring how well you follow the MIND guidelines in your daily diet.
Keep track of the positive numbers for “brain-healthy” foods and the negative numbers for “brain-damaging” foods.

The distribution of points for each food group is as shown in the following table.

foods good for the headscore
whole grain products+1
leafy vegetables+5
pulse (edible seeds of various leguminous crops)+3
chicken meat+2
Other Vegetables+5
fish and shellfish+4
Wine (no more than 1 glass)+1
food that is bad for your headscore
Butter or margarine-3
Sweets and snacks-5
Red meat and processed meat-3
deep-fried food-5
eating out-3
Wine (more than one glass)-3

When recording on the scoreboard, don't think about “how many grams of this vegetable is there? When recording your score, don't think about how many grams of this vegetable you ate, but rather, “I ate enough lettuce to fit in the palms of both my hands, so I'm clear for today.
Please refer to this page for quantity guidelines.
The magic diet that improves brain function just by eating

The beast is forgetful and doesn't always remember exactly what he is eating.
You may think, “I ate a lot of vegetables this week, so I'm healthy,” but in reality, it's just an exaggerated memory of the small salad that came with your set meal, or the potato chips you ate between meals.

In one study, men and women who had problems with dieting were gathered and surveyed to precisely record their daily meals.
The majority of the participants said, “I shouldn't be eating 1200 kcal a day,” or “I ate lots of vegetables and no sweets,” but in fact they ate an average of 47% more calories and 51% fewer vegetables than they estimated.
Steven W. Lichtman, Krystyna Pisarska, Ellen Raynes Berman, Michele Pestone, Hillary Dowling, Esther Offenbacher, Hope Weisel, Stanley Heshka, Dwight E. Matthews, and Steven B. Heymsfield (1992) Discrepancy Between Self Reported and Actual Caloric Intake and Exercise in Obese Subjects

Not only does your inner beast not have an accurate memory of your meals, but it also has a tendency to twist inconvenient events to suit its needs.
The only way to solve this problem is to grab a numerical value of your daily diet.

Level 3: Focus log and scoreboard

In addition to the “MIND scoreboard” in Level 2, this method also records changes in concentration.
After each hour, look back and ask yourself, “How well did I concentrate? and grade yourself on a 10-point scale.

The level of concentration can be judged subjectively, with a score of 10 if you were so absorbed in the work that you were completely oblivious to what was going on around you, and a score of 0 if you could barely keep up with the work.
“Give it a 5 if you think it was “average concentration as usual.
“You may wonder, “Is it safe to grade subjectively? However, this is a time-honored technique used in psychotherapy.
We know that we can understand the patterns of fluctuations in concentration subjectively and to some extent accurately.

Keep a focus log for at least a week, and then compare it to the MIND scoreboard.
What you need to pay attention to here is the correspondence between the score on the scoreboard and the focus log.

  • Did eating brain-healthy foods change your ability to concentrate?
  • If your concentration improved, how many minutes after you ate a particular food did it?
  • Did eating brain-damaging foods increase or decrease your productivity?
  • Did the snacking give you more energy?

After going over the two records several times, you will gradually gain a better understanding of the relationship between food and concentration.
This understanding will further motivate you to work on MIND.

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