Food tracking can evoke many emotions. If you have any experience with weight loss, dieting, consulting with a nutritionist or participating in any weight loss program, you probably have an immediate reaction to food tracking. For some, food tracking is LIFE! It is the only way to hold themselves accountable and stay on track with a healthy weight and healthy consumption of food. For others, it produces a negative, almost visceral, reaction similar perhaps to getting vaccines at the doctor. You might start to get clammy and uncomfortable and feel judgement at the thought of having to keep track of everything you are consuming nutritionally.
Let’s break free of our emotions around food and look it at purely from a “food is fuel” perspective. When we change our attitude and perspective around food, it makes it a lot easier to manage what you are eating and therefore manage your weight and your health.
Once you break free of the emotional chains surrounding food, food tracking can become an awesome tool that provides you valuable information to keep your body healthy and fueled the way it needs to be! Let’s look at it from that perspective and perhaps you will be inspired to leverage the tools out there to help you better manage a healthy way of consuming food.
Why Keep Track of What You Eat
Metrics are important to measure your progress and success. Some people are excellent at being “intuitive eaters” and eat only food that makes them feel good, provides their body with good nutrients and they don’t feel compelled to overeat. However, intuitive eating is not for everyone and food tracking is a way to see what you are eating with each meal. When you have the information about WHAT you are eating, it is much easier to make any necessary changes if you want to lose weight or adjust your diet.
How to Food Track
The “how” is really up to you! As an IDW, you most likely have a smart phone that is pretty much an extension of your body! Therefore, why not use one of several free apps to make this process as easy as possible? We love My Fitness Pal, but there are others out there like Lose It!, My Plate, or Calorie Counter. If you prefer the “old-fashioned” way, keep a pad of paper and pen with you at all times and track as you go. Another alternative is to take photos of what you are eating and make an album on your phone to keep them organized.
Reading Food Labels
The key to success with food tracking is understanding WHAT you are eating. You must learn how to read food labels! The good news is, they are relatively easy to understand. The key things to look for in any food item are: calories, total fat (and what kind! Saturated or unsaturated?), protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and sodium. The other important thing to look at when choosing your foods is look at the ingredient list. If the list is more than 5 ingredients long and full of words you can’t understand, you are probably better off choosing a more “whole food option” that will better fuel your body!
Food tracking isn’t for everyone. That said, if you are seeking more information about what you are eating or understanding why you feel a certain way, why you have gained or lost weight, etc. food tracking will be essential to making any necessary changes. We want to offer this perspective so you can take control of your nutrition and be the strong IDW that you are versus a victim of the “diet culture”.