(Video Version can be found on my Facebook page – Peggy Smith Wellness, September 20, 2018)
Today my deep thoughts are about Food Tracking!
Did you know that 7 peanut m&m’s (like the ones I just enjoyed) have 72 calories, 3,7 g of fat and 8.6 g of carbs?
So let’s say I’m on a 1,400 calorie a day plan and I mindlessly go to the receptionist desk a couple times a day and get a handful? That’s a couple hundred calories I might not have to spare most days of the week if I want to stay on track with my goals.
It’s super duper easy to lose track of everything we consume on any given day if we aren’t paying attention. It’s easy to forget we asked for that extra side of chick fil a sauce, or ranch dressing, easy to forget, and hence not account for, the half a granola bar the kids didn’t finish and you didn’t want to waste, or the few French fries you ate off hubby’s plate when you went out to dinner last night.
I want to be sure to say I’m not a fan of anyone feeling like they have to track food for the rest of their lives – but I am a huge proponent of doing it when you have specific goals or if you want to have a much better idea of what your eating habits REALLY are!
Whichever way you choose – using an old fashioned paper journal, or a slick new phone app (and I’m going to include my favorite suggestions in the comments) – tracking everything you eat for at least a week can really help in few key ways.
First it will help you better control the number of calories you are consuming. Let’s face it, as much as we want there to be a magic pill – if we want to lose weight, we need to consider the number (and type) of calories we are consuming. If you don’t have a good idea how many calories are in certain foods, you might be sabotaging your weight loss efforts without realizing it (even with seemingly healthy foods). Using one of the electronic trackers, either on your computer or your phone, really makes the process simple because you just have to start typing what you ate into the database and it will usually find it and know exactly what the calories and other nutritional data are per serving. Some of the apps even work by simply taking a picture of your food or the bar code on the packaging!
The next reason is to get a better idea of portions. This goes along with learning about calories because when you get a better idea of how many calories are in things you have a much better idea of the kinds of things you can “pig out” on – like our gut’s favorite food – vegetables and also lean meats and certain fruits. In addition, you’ll be much more aware of foods you want to seriously control the portion size of if weight loss is one of your goals.
A really important reason to track is that it gives you concrete data from which you, and if you have a coach, you and your coach, can formulate much more specific plans for smashing those goals! We can very easily trick ourselves into believing we don’t snack much on processed food, or that we get our full 5 servings of vegetables everyday. But if you are really honest and diligent for several days about tracking every single thing you consume, you will start to see patterns and understand much better what your food story is.
Studies show that those who lose the most weight, in the short and long term – are those who are the most diligent about self tracking. When you stick with tracking while you are on your weight loss journey, you will find you do eat less because you don’t want to record junky food – especially if you have an accountability partner looking at your journal with you.
When I work with clients on elimination plans – which can really significantly improve gut health and reduce inflammation and make you feel better in more ways than you might imagine – we couple the activity of food tracking with the more mindful act of journaling emotional and physical responses to food or the lack of certain food.
When you start to make the connection between food and your mood your commitment to better eating becomes about so much more than a number on the scale. You will make this connection faster when you are journaling throughout each day how you feel – do you have a headache after dairy, do you feel brain fog after you eat bread, do you lie in bed with your heart racing if you eat a lot of sugar before bed? Sometimes we assign these symptoms to other things and we can go a lifetime assuming we have one condition or another, when the culprit might be what we are eating.
Making the commitment to honesty track everything you eat and drink and then combine that with an honest account of how you felt at different times of the day can be truly transformative on your wellness journey!
If you are interested in learning more about how this all works or you’d be interested in having that accountability person who looks over your journal with you and helps you chart a path to your goals, let’s set up a time to talk! I’d love to walk alongside you and be your cheerleader!
Until next time friends,
XO – Peggy