If you listen to me or read my blogs at all, you know I ALWAYS mention food tracking.Â Itâ€™s like that one family member at the holidays that we just donâ€™t want to be around, but we HAVE invite them because they are family. That is food tracking. Most of us donâ€™t want anything to do with it and it’s the last part of getting healthy you want to take on.Â But in order to reach your goals and truly get you to where you want to be, YOU HAVE TO TRACK YOUR FOOD!Â You just have to freaking do it.Â
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I had four coaches give you some tips and secrets to tracking your food that may change your mind a bit on it!Â (I mean if you arenâ€™t going to listen to all the times, I have beaten it into your head! LOL!Â Maybe youâ€™ll take someone else’s word for it!)Â ðŸ˜œ
She is a strength, nutrition, and certified health mindset coach. My number one food tracking tip is to track as you go! I am not somebody who loves tracking, I don’t do it all the time. But for myself and my clients, it will always be the first tool I pull out in order to bring more awareness around our intake regardless of our goals.
So, whether it’s fat loss, or muscle gain, or just trying to increase our protein or fiber, we can’t manage what we can’t measure. In terms of tracking, my biggest recommendation is to use your Notes App on your phone, keep a little notepad around you, and try your best to be really intentional about tracking what you eat and what you drink, as you are eating and drinking it.
And yes, this is something that you will have to remind yourself to do. But the point is that if you wait until the end of the day, you wonâ€™t remember. I don’t know about you, but as a busy working mom of three, there are a lot of things that kind of just slip my mind. And I can guarantee you that what I ate at 1030am while making my three-year-old a snack is not going to be one of them.
Although it is kind of an extra step; it does take some intention. Tracking as you go is just for me and a lot of my clients a lot more accurate than trying to remember everything that we ate over the course of the day, or at the end of the week.
If food tracking is going to be something that you plan on doing, my advice is to try to be as accurate as possible. Even if you need to make alerts on your phone or walk around with a little piece of paper to track what youâ€™re eating when you are eating it. Seven to ten days of intentional tracking can really go a long way in terms of giving you some insight in what you are eating and how you’re fueling your body and the more accurate we can be with that the better.
She is functional nutritionist and menstrual health educator with an intuitive approach to health. I follow a more intuitive approach that emphasizes letting the body lead. Tracking isn’t really something I recommend long term because in my experience, and in my practice. I’ve seen that lead to disordered eating or anxious tendencies around food.
However, intuition is information. It’s a collection of experiences that’s housed in your brain, like a database of experiences that you can call on before rational thought can kick in. And it’s your second nature. Since intuition is based on information in your environment, you need to start with something great. My tip for tracking food is to use it as a temporary tool to gain awareness.
I have clients track their food and mood for three to five days, including weekend days when they’re out of their normal work routine. And rather than logging every last teaspoon, and measuring everything, I just asked that they input a brief description of what they ate, the main ingredients and then write down how they feel before and after they eat. Then write a few words about how they feel, and this can be physical, mental, or emotional.
So physical can be a hunger level! And if you’re trying this, you know what your signals are, but some people don’t and that’s okay. This is another way to gain awareness around that. Hunger signals can be jitters, difficulty focusing, irritability, feeling tired. And again, those feelings that you list can be mental or emotional as well. So maybe after you eat, you’re feeling anything from happiness to guiltÂ and/ornausea. There’s a lot of information that you can find there. And it’s all information for that intuitive database.
You’re learning how certain foods make you feel, so that you can make intuitive and intentional choices in the future, based on how you want to feel, and you’re also learning about patterns that you might not have noticed before. For instance, I had a client with ADHD who never ate breakfast and was having trouble focusing at work. But once she made the connection that having a balanced breakfast changed the entire course of her day, she was able to make those second nature decisions a lot easier because she knew it needed to happen during the day and she knew what foods took her there.
There’s a lot of valuable information to be found in food tracking, but I like to use it in this way where it’s more intuitive or more training your intuition to know what to expect and I view it as a temporary tool for becoming more in tune with your body.
Make sure that you’re tracking the right thing for the right reason in the right way. When many of us think of food tracking, we think of writing down every bite look and taste that passes through our mouth, whether it’s in a food tracking journal, or on some type of digital device.Â The thought of that alone, for most of us is enough to make us not want to track anything ever. And trying to do it that way, all the time, can actually make us miss out on some of the upsides that food tracking has to offer.
The benefits of food tracking are increased awareness around how we’re actually eating versus how we feel like we’re eating, as well as some self-accountability to follow through on the changes that we’re trying to make. However, we’ve said that it can be overwhelming and time consuming. And for some of us, it can even trigger a little bit of food obsession, if you are tracking every single thing that you bite, look, and think about it.Â Maybe you’re with your kid, and they got fries, you had a few fries and then you feel like â€œoh my gosh, where’s my food journal, I have to record those two to French fries.â€ That can be overwhelming for some people, and for a lot of people that can trigger a little bit of food obsession.
The question becomes, how do we receive the benefits of food tracking, the awareness of how we’re eating, and the accountability to follow through on what we’re trying to change without triggering some of the negative effects that are possible for some people?Â What I recommend is in the very beginning of your journey, and anytime you hit a plateau, or anytime you feel like I’m doing everything right, but I just can’t see. Or I’m not getting the results that I think match up with how I feel I’m eating. Well, that’s a great time to track everything, right?
So maybe three or even seven days if you can last that longâ€¦ Total Recall, whether you’re writing it in a journal, or whether you are logging it into some type of digital app to really bring awareness to â€œOkay, how am I really eating?â€Â Most times when we do this, we are able to recognize some things that we maybe weren’t quite conscious of.Â Like we didn’t realize that we have two or three handfuls of snacks in between every meal, or we didn’t realize that the dessert after dinner is the gift that keeps on giving. We have a piece of chocolate and there’s five gummy candies, and then there’s a cookie, or something else along those lines! Tracking can really reveal those things and make us aware of which changes we can make in order to get results rolling or get them rolling again.
Once you have that awareness, though, then we can move to what I like to call selective tracking. And that’s where you track the things that you’re trying to change. And the purpose at this point is to create that self-accountability to follow through. If I know that I’m trying to eat more vegetables, I’m trying to drink more water and let’s say those are the only two changes that I’m working on right now. Maybe in my initial tracking, I found three or four things that I could change, but I want to start with one or two, then that’s what I try!Â That’s what I try because that’s simple. That’s something I can do really quickly either in a note on my phone, or even in my planner.
This is something that I have my clients do, because itâ€™s literally just a check, or the lack of a check, either you did it or you did not do it. And then once you’ve done that, for a while you feel like those habits are mastered, you can go back to the drawing board, like that initial list that you created from that initial tracking. Or you can do another three days of tracking to just see how things have shifted and changed. Then you can decide from that list which habit you’re going to start next.
That is a way that you can track and get all of the benefits, the awareness of what I’m eating, the self-accountability to follow through and to be consistent without triggering that overwhelm. Without triggering that feeling of this is taking way too much time. Or I don’t like this because I’m literally obsessed over food and I’m afraid to take a bite of anything unless I have my food journal there.Â OR social situations are becoming awkward because I’m literally running to my food journal or not as engaged because I’m trying to remember what I ate so that I can write that down!!!
So that my friends is my best food tracking tip for you!!
A fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coach for women. When it comes to food tracking here is my number one tip. I always recommend that my clients include the time of the meal or snack, what food was eaten, about how much they ate, why the food, was it hunger, craving or other and also a rating of the hunger at the time of the meal.
The piece where I have the client indicate why they ate the food is absolute gold. As a busy society we tend to eat and not even notice, or we may eat instead of listening to our body and what we really need. When we’re truly hungry. We have signals such as growling gut, low energy, mood changes, shakiness, headache, etc. And if we’re not hungry, we may be feeling something else like boredom, sadness, stress, frustration, or something else.
So, it’s important to note that not all emotional eating is from negative feelings. Sometimes it’s happiness and joy that can lead to eating even when we aren’t hungry. If you’re going to track your food, I highly recommend also tracking your emotions. This extra attention will take your food tracking and results to a new level!
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