Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Value of Tracking Your Food

My post-cardio breakfast, documented via IG.
A healthy lifestyle consists of making the healthiest choice you can for the majority of your decisions regarding nutrition and exercise. It doesn't mean you never eat what you want or take a day to sit on the couch. A healthy lifestyle is determined by the majority of your choices, not the one poor choice you made in a moment of weakness.

That being said, I'm constantly reminding myself and my clients this concept. As a trainer and coach, I'm a huge advocate for setting small goals to change bad eating habits and introducing good, healthy foods/exercises before taking away the not-so-good. In order to do this, I encourage people to reflect on their new nutrition habits, taking note of how certain habits/foods make one feel. In turn, one begins to teach his or her body what it needs, and the body begins to crave those healthier foods. One can become an intuitive eater, rather than someone following a strict meal plan or diet.

I often steer clear of having my clients track their calories or record numbers of any kind, actually, because it tends to make people think in terms of black and white ... or ... right and wrong. I don't want my clients to think some food is right and some food is wrong. There are foods that make you feel light and energetic, and there are foods that make you feel fat and bloated. If you choose to eat pizza for lunch, it doesn't make you bad or wrong. Was it the best choice you could have made? Probably not. But, maybe you really wanted it. And if you want something that's "restricted" or "prohibited" because it's not on your diet, guess what? You're going to want it more badly than any time before. That's why I feel it's necessary to keep track of the foods you eat, writing them down or recording them in a digital diary/mobile app.

Benefits of Journaling Food

  • Keeps you accountable
  • Identifies eating habits
  • Challenges you to make goals
  • Makes you think about why you eat what you eat
  • Improves your relationship with food
  • Slows down the process of eating food

Recording the foods you eat day to day gives you a sense of your habitual eating choices. It can also remind you of the tiny bites here and there that you eat you may not consider when you're going about your day. In my experience, tracking your meals or foods, for a time-being of course, helps to reduce mindless eating. You see, we don't want our minds to be consumed by food, but we do want to improve our relationship with food. And sometimes, you have to discipline oneself by reflecting on specific choices you make throughout the day.

I recently started using the calorie-counter, macro-tracking app on my iPhone called MyMacros+. I had experience the widely-used smart phone app MyFitnessPal, but decided I wanted something a little more straightforward when it comes to tracking macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat). I actually really like MyMacros+ and think it's a valuable tool in becoming an intuitive eater. I've been pulling up the app while I'm eating or cooking, and it's helped me to think twice about the foods I really want to eat, as well as slow down while I'm eating. Instead of scarfing down the whole bag of mixed veggies, I stop at 2/3 of the bag - haha!

I also find it way more valuable to track macronutrients instead of overall calories. It's important to realize that each person burns energy differently. A person who runs primarily for exercise, and whose goals include training for a race or marathon, for instance, will need a different number of carbohydrates than a person whose goal is to primarily lose weight and reshape his or her body. If you're unsure what your macronutrient goals should look like, I encourage you to visit That website has a nutrition calculator free to use, that enables you to input your personal information and determine your macros based on your goals.

Tracking your food doesn't have to become a full-time job. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it is to use MyMacros+, and I'm sure other ways of recording meals are just as easy. It literally takes me like 3 minutes post-meal (or while I'm eating) to plug in my foods. And that's including time to scan barcodes or look up unique foods.

If you want help getting started or you're interested in a custom program, please don't hesitate to contact me or fill out my inquiry form (links on the right sidebar). 

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