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5 Reasons to Track Your Food

Reasons to track your food are plentiful. Choose your motivation to start.

Have you heard the definition of “stupidity”? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. Think about that. Think of a dog chasing its tail. If you ask 1000 coaches what they feel is the number one habit to adopt to help lose weight, Tracking food would be one of the first 3. I guarantee it.

A new study in the Journal of Obesity suggests that self-monitoring the foods you consume is the most effective way to lose weight. But tracking your food for weight loss isn’t the only positive this habit brings. So what are the benefits of tracking your food?

Track your food
Be mindful, track your food.

Increased mindfulness

Can you remember what you ate for dinner last night? When you don’t consistently track your food, it’s easy to forget what you eat. Did I have sirloin or New York steak for dinner? Is there a difference? Did I cut off the fat? A food tracking tool gives you the resources to note your consumption consistently and accurately. Often we forget everything we put in our mouths. Tracking helps you remain mindful of what you eat because you have to log it. Do you clean plates from the dinner table and “clean up”? How many calories are in those bites? My motto is: “If you bite it, You write it.” It’s that simple.

But you say I have to write it all down. Write it, use myfitnesspal, or track it on your watch’s platform, and take photos of plates before and after. Take notes every day, every meal, every snack. You will not have to do this for the rest of your life. The minute it touches your lips that is the minute you write it. You had to stop to eat, stop to track.

What’s important is the fact we can see trends. When certain foods are eaten, tie that to moods, activities, people, and places and create a plan for the next step.

Tracking your food provides a better understanding of your current eating habits.

To reach your nutrition goals, you need to know your starting point to make an attainable plan with steps to reach your goal. For instance, you need to know how many calories you’re currently consuming, from what sources, and what ratio of macronutrients before you can tweak anything to make progress toward your goal..Food tracking allows you to implement a sustainable diet plan

Do you crave something sweet in the afternoon? When you track your food, you can see what might be happening. Do seasons affect how you eat? What about specific times of the month or the year? All these things can be built into a plan that keeps you working towards your goals, when you know

Tracking your food informs you how nutrient-dense your food is

Tracking your food helps you determine what foods are “worth it” for you to meet your goals/nutritional needs (after a few days, you may think, “Wow, those donuts from the breakroom are really difficult to fit into my nutrition plan and they aren’t that satiating. I think I’d rather eat something else.” OR something like, “Cake is my favorite dessert. I know I’m going to have to balance the rest of my day because of it, but I’m ok with that because I don’t eat cake that often and I really love cake, so this is worth it to me.”)

Likewise, it helps you realize what foods are inhibiting you from meeting your goals (and therefore help you reduce the amount of consumption or even eliminate). For example, a latte with whole milk and syrups can add an extra 500 calories to your day. If you consume that latte every day, that’s an extra 3500 calories each week…that’s equal to 1lb of fat…every week. Food tracking informs you of your food’s nutrient value It’s pointless to track calories if you are only monitoring food with no nutritional value. Your body needs macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) to function properly. Food trackers will allow you to log your food intake and show you exactly how many macros you need — and how many you’re actually getting. To get the macros you need, eat a rich diet of fresh produce, healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein.

Nutrient Dense
Nutrient Dense Food

It holds you accountable.

Food tracking holds you accountable It’s easy to forget everything you’ve eaten in a day—or even a few hours ago. But everything from a piece of cake to a baby carrot should be accounted for. When you consistently log your food, it keeps you accountable, and you become much more intentional about why and when you’re eating.

It helps you balance your total calories and macronutrients throughout the day. Food tracking raises awareness Have you ever thought, “wow, I had no idea that burger was full of that many calories”? Once you start tracking your food, you become aware of the good —and bad— that you’ve been putting into your body. In addition, tracking your food provides the awareness you need to stay on top of the nasty habits you’ve tried to ignore for so long.

Helps you reach your goals.

Once you know the caloric density of your food, you can’t help but use that information for the future to help you reach your goals. For example, while out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory you are debating what appetizer you want to order. Before making a decision, you check to see how many calories are in the Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps and discover that they contain a whopping 1000 calories. You also notice that would put you way over your calorie limit for the day and decide to go with a different appetizer. (Side note: this is different than a restrictive, boring diet. Tracking simply allows you to make informed decisions of foods you enjoy)

Decide what you’re going to get at the grocery store while at home or pre-read the menu and log those foods in advance. If you aren’t able to do this, learn after you make a choice why it was good or bad (moving towards or away from your goal) and how to improve your choice in the future.

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