I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to wheat. Or at least intolerant of it. I don’t think I can handle dairy either. But I’m not sure. My symptoms are not bad enough to make it overwhelmingly obvious, so it’s only when I get acne breakouts, or crash out from tiredness, or experience bouts of bloating, that I remember I should probably figure it out. That or stop eating so much of it.
So last week I wanted to build an app to help me easily track things like what I’m eating and what I’m feeling. I actually found a really good app on my search, Food Allergy Detective, and even though I tried to redesign the interface to make it prettier and more fun to use, it turns out MY pain wasn’t big enough, and THEIR solution wasn’t bad enough for me to be motivated to continue.
It was a lesson in knowing when to keep going with something, and when to just concede gracefully.
But it also made me aware of how many things I do a half assed job of tracking, like when I get my period, and what symptoms I experience, or how much I am spending, and how much I should be spending.
It would be nice to track activities without any explicit action required.
I have no problem tracking what I’m eating when I’ve just had a stomach ache, because I’m highly motivated to find the source. But a day passes, and the pain passes, and I forget. I have no incentive to track what I’m eating when I’m asymptomatic. The same can happen with tracking expenditure, or the dates of my period.
So what if there were a way to track things in the background, or what if it were more fun to track behaviour?
I wrote recently about the fertility tracking app, Glow, and they too are asking people to manually enter data, as are Clue, the app for tracking periods, and Insandouts app for tracking baby activities.
Some more intelligent tracking apps that come with a smart device that does the data entry automatically are the Mimo Baby Monitor for tracking your baby’s temperature, activity, and sleep; Propeller that collects data for asthma sufferers, so they can see how many puffs they’ve taken, as well as where and when; and OMSignal clothes that track your biometrics like heart rate and stress levels.
But what would be an automated way to track what we are eating? A device in our mouths? Or in our stomachs?
…humans are self-regulating creatures, with a multitude of systems working to achieve homeostasis… Feedback loops are how we learn, whether we call it trial and error or course correction. In so many areas of life, we succeed when we have some sense of where we stand and some evaluation of our progress. Indeed, we tend to crave this sort of information; it’s something we viscerally want to know, good or bad. As Stanford’s Bandura put it, “People are proactive, aspiring organisms.” Feedback taps into those aspirations.”
If I knew that I was always tired after I ate dairy, then I might have more of an incentive to stop eating it. Or maybe not ;)
Are you good at tracking your behaviour manually? Do you have any cool apps that you recommend that motivate you when you feel demotivated? Would love to hear in the comments!