If anyone has given you advice on how to “eat healthy,” chances are he or she told you to try writing down everything you eat.
I personally think everyone should keep a food log at some point in his or her life. Tracking food helps make you aware of what you’re eating and how it affects your body.
Ask anyone how many grams of protein he or she consumes a day on average? How much water? How many calories? Most likely, they don’t know the answers to these questions. Most people are not aware of what they put into their bodies.
Food tracking will help make you aware.
The goal isn’t to track your food for the rest of your life. The goal should be to get a good understand of food and how it affects your body. Food tracking will help you see what 1,500 calories looks like and what if feels like in your body. Apps like MyFitnessPal will tell you if the variety of food you consume gives you enough protein, vitamins, and healthy fats each day. Tracking your food will make you more knowledgeable about what vitamins and macronutrients are in basic foods. But it will take more than a day to find these answers. You can’t simply track your food for one day and assume you know what it means to eat healthy. It is a process and it will take some commitment. But it is a commitment everyone should make at least once in his or her life.
You know food tracking has served its purpose when, without tracking, you can feel when you’ve eaten too much or not enough or consumed a food that your body is intolerant to. You will see and feel the signs of low iron or too many carbohydrates. Food logging will open your eyes to which foods make you bloated, break out or feel strong. If you want to be healthy you need to understand what is happening in your body.
As I said before, you do not need to track every day for the rest of your life. But, you likely will need to check in with your food-tracking app as your body starts to change. Age, fitness, body weight and lifestyle all affect how much your body needs to eat to maintain a healthy weight. As these things change, track your food for a month to make sure you are on the right track with your new body.
I still track my food. Not 365 days a year, but when I need it. Food tracking is an amazing tool that I use when I start to get lazy with my food. I go through periods where I don’t feel like cooking, so I’ll snack too much and do not eat enough vegetables. When this starts to happen, I get back on track by logging my food. And it always works!
You know food tracking is hurting you when you become obsessed with meeting your macronutrient and calorie goals each day. Food tracking should not take over your life. If it has caused disordered eating, please stop and talk to a friend or therapist about why that is happening.