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Digitising my food planning in Notion

By May 24, 2020 No Comments

Packing is a fun and essential part of doing any hike, let alone long-distance hikes. And planning for food and food intake is an essential part of that. It is about not packing too little (and being hungry) and not packing too much (and carrying needless weight). It is balancing calories and nutrients. It is planning for your appetite. My first Jordan Trail thru-hike, for example, I had planned for eating trail breakfast, but did not have the appetite so ended up with having too little meals and too many breakfasts. In other words, it is a tedious job keeping track of it all.

Up until recently, I have been building mainly from the packing lists I had collected over the years and would have some overall calculations of my needs and favorites. E.g. when I would go packing for the Jordan Trail, I would take my Iceland Laugavegur Trail packing list and tweak it towards more days, hotter climate, etcetera. As a note-to-self, I would add remarks and tweaks on the bottom of my blog posts for my next hike. But it all still felt suboptimal and I would lose track from time to time (more on this specific case below). So since I had some extra time on my hands during Corona times, I decided to digitize my packing list in Notion. In less than an hour, I had built a master gear list that helps me automatically calculate the weight of my pack and helps me decide what to bring. This is a follow-up post, where I decided I needed some extra functionalities, calculating the calory intake in the ‘food’ part of my packing list.

Polle cut out
Adventure foods in Notion

On Notion

Notion is a super simple and straightforward workspace and note-taking app at first, but has some very powerful features (e.g. databases, linked databases, templates, multiple views like kanban/calendar/table/list for the same content) that make it a very flexible tool for a wide variety of purposes. The app’s community has built a broad range of templates highlighting potential uses: creating to-dos, keeping a journal, storing recipes, making a list of books to read, or publishing simple websites through a tool that allows you to make Notion pages public.

I personally mainly use it for my work in customer experience and innovation, but recently also started to use it for more personal areas of my life like holiday planning and planning and preparing my hikes.

If you want to know more about Notion and how to use it, be sure to check out Marie Poulin and Francesco from Keep Productive.

Notion app

On digitising my food planning in Notion

I wrote a separate post detailing how I digitized my packing list in Notion. I started out with making a database/table with all my most-used gear. This would be my master reference list, the list of gear to choose from when packing for a new hike. An additional benefit would be that it will double as a total list of all the gear I have (sometimes it is hard to keep track). I did not add all my gear at once, I decided to add gear gradually, starting with my first upcoming hike, and would keep adding gear every time I would need it for my packing list.

While planning for my Arctic Circle Trail hike in August, I realized I hadn’t properly looked into my overall calorie intake. Although these long hikes will always leave you with some sort of calorie deficit (you will be losing weight), I wanted to have a better insight in how many calories I would take in every day. Depending a bit on the length of your days and the terrain (14 hour days in the mountains are easier than 6 hour days in The Netherlands), I usually keep an average of 4000 – 4500 calories I need.

In order to do so, I added the calories for each item in the item page (see the example for Adventure Foods earlier on this page), as I described in my earlier post.

Food calculation in Notion

As I already had a master list of all the gear I had, I can make separate pages that “borrow” the information from this master list and show it in a new table. Through linked databases, I can select all the gear I need from the master list, display it in a separate table and have the table automatically calculate the total weight. I now added a column that calculates the number of calories and calculates the average number of calories per day.

This makes it super easy to add/remove things from the list and see what difference it makes in my total weight and calories. E.g. what is the difference in calories of taking protein bars versus trail nuts.

I updated the template so that the next time I will do a long hike (Jordan Trail next year? Camino de Santiago next year?), I will have the foundation to work from.

In other words: using the technology available in tools like Notion, it is now really really easy to focus on the things you should focus on: having the right gear and packing the right stuff. Would love to hear your tips and ideas!

All my earlier packing lists

Feel free to browse through all the posts or use the button to see the category view.

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