Tracking food intake may seem overly-obsessive or time consuming, however studies show that self-monitoring of food intake is a crucial aspect of successful weight loss intervention programs. This will be a crucial behavior to practice in order to gain awareness of foods you eat in the process of building your eating strategy.
Here it goes:
1. You will start to learn about the macronutrient and calorie content of foods you eat. For example: what foods deliver carbs, protein, etc. you’ll also start to learn that some foods are more calorie-dense while other foods are less calorie-dense. This knowledge will be super helpful when putting together a meal that will keep you full and satisfied on fewer calories.
2. You will get a better idea of appropriate portion sizes. To track food intake accurately, initially it’s a good idea to invest in a digital food scale. weighing food can be super eye-opening and bring awareness to how much is appropriate for you.
3. You will learn how you feel with an appropriate amount of food for your goals. Aiming to feel a certain way is something you can start to make a habit and practice even when you’re not tracking food intake.
4. You will learn about your eating habits and what circumstances or moods affect what and how much you eat. You might start to realize that certain situations lead you to overeat. This data can be helpful to address to make appropriate changes in order to reach your goals.
5. Seeing what you’re eating written out could bring a new awareness to what you may need to adjust. Typically, what people learn is that they’re eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein or fiber.
6. You can see where you can squeeze in some ice cream while still reaching your goals. (or pizza, doughnuts, etc.) As long as most of your calories are coming from whole, minimally processed foods, having less nutrient-dense foods in moderation could help you feel more satisfied with your diet. This can allow you to be consistent for a longer period of time, allowing you to reach your goals without feeling deprived.
7. It allows for better planning. Whether it’s deciding what you’re going to eat earlier in the day based on what you know you’ll be having later or planning out ratios/portion sizes in a recipe. This type of planning can allow for more flexibility. More flexible = more sustainable.
8. It can highlight what you are already doing well. For those people who think “I’ve been soooo bad” then proceed to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s since they feel so bad about how they “blew” their diet. You might not actually be that “bad”. You might just need to make a few small tweaks that will make a big difference.
Bottom line is…
There are many lessons to be learned from tracking the food you put into your mouth. If you want to change your physique or lose weight, changing what/how much you eat is almost always unavoidable.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Beware of these common food tracking mistakes:
Mistake 1: Not accounting for bites, licks, tastes, added oils and dressing, coffee add-ins, etc. These seemingly little things can really add up. Accurate tracking means everything that goes into your mouth gets accounted for.
Mistake 2: Using incorrect data entries. As useful as MyFitnessPal is, there are a lot of incorrect data entries created by users. Always double check when entering a new food.
Mistake 3: Entering in exercise calories. DO NOT put your exercise calories into MyFitnessPal. They will be drastically over estimated. Just track your food.
Wait, do I have to do this forever?
Nope. Tracking your food intake is simply a skill you should learn to monitor eating and a tool to use to help you build productive habits. It will also be key during this coaching process in order for us to monitor, tweak and adjust food intake.
Eventually, you will get to a point where you will be able to transition into being able to make progress-supporting eating choices without having to track every morsel. It’s also something you can revisit in the future if you feel your diet needs tweaking again.
Want my help?
Download the MyFitnessPal app and track your food intake for two weeks. Everything you eat. Send me the results and we’ll go from there.