Tracking food

I have food issues. I don’t like the fact that I have food issues, but there you have it… I have a mostly dysfunctional relationship with food.

I talked about this when I failed at my 21 day sugar detox here and you can read about it in The Whole Story.

Mostly my issues are that I have no concept of satiety (i.e. being full) and I LOOOOOOOVE food. So really it’s a miracle I’m not 400 pounds.

I am not 400 pounds because I work at it. I exercise regularly, I make most of my food from scratch, I eat the healthiest food possible and… when all else fails, I track my food.

Lot’s of people have different opinions on tracking food. Some people think that it is the only way to control weight, while others think that it’s a time consuming, soul sucking  activity that leaves you neurotic. Maybe it’s both?

I can maintain my weight if I don’t track my food, but I cannot lose weight. I think the main reason for this is that I will grab random handfuls of things if I am not tracking it.

The thought process goes like this:

“I’m a little hungry, but don’t feel like having a meal. I will just have a few almonds!”

*** walks to cupboard, grabs handful of almonds, sees raisins***

“oooo, raisins and nuts are like a trail mix type o’ thing, yup, happening”

*** grabs a handful of raisins and nuts, walks back to couch, nomnomnom***

15 minutes later…

“I haven’t had a real meal, but I’ve snacked so I’m not really hungry… let’s make popcorn”

Next thing you know, I have consumed 4 different “snack” items and no dinner and things get ridiculous. And yes, that is what my internal dialogue sounds like because I’m awesome.

If I am tracking my food the thought process goes like this:

“I am hungry, let’s have a snack! Wait, how many almonds are in an oz? how do I track 2 handfuls of raisins? ugh, that’s too much effort, I’ll make a proper meal that I can track better” – WIN!

So, for me tracking food stops the mindless eating because I have to actually thinks about the portion and the food and if there was a hidden ingredient in there etc. It FORCES mindful eating on me. It can be annoying from time to time, but for me it works. I use Spark People to track my food which I find is a decent tool though I know lot of people like my fitness pal or livestrong. It’s not for everyone, but I think a lot of people have found success through accountability with food journaling.

What have your experiences been with food trackers?

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12 thoughts on “Tracking food

  1. Tracking your food isn’t just good for losing weight…I think it’s good for a variety of reasons because, like you said, it keeps you accountable. I have a lot of food issues as well (shocker) and for me it’s been a really good way to make sure I’m getting the nutrition I need…this happened after I became anemic in college because I was living off of instant oatmeal packets in college. *sigh

    • Absolutely, I love being able to make sure that my protein is high enough and look back at the day and make sure there were enough veggies in there etc. I think in Uni I lived off of eggs on toast mostly… with cheese. Lot of cheese!

  2. I’m one who does pretty well at maintaining weight on my own, however, since doing this bulk/cut thing ever since I started using My Fitness Pal I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It’s so easy and it’s really fun for me to see exactly what I’m doing!

  3. Love the photo. I haven’t read the extra links you provided yet. But I’m with you in that trying the paleo non tracking ways actually put weight on me and I wasn’t thrilled. It may be time consuming but I know how many portions of basic food groups I should be eating each day and that’s how I track since I’m also an omnomnomivor, lol.

  4. I tracked since April. Weighed and measured literally everything that went into my mouth. I did loose weight and got to know portions, etc. Unfortunately, it made me a bit obsessive and I felt like I had to travel with my food scale in my pocket. (I did – it’s very sad) I stopped tracking as I felt like it was fostering a very unhealthy relationship with food for me. I looked at food as “grams of this, these macros” rather than nourishment or just food.

    • I hear this a lot. I think it depends on whether you can be ok with doing it mostly right. I rarely weight my food and usually just approximate things unless I am in the last few weeks of competition. It all depends what works for you. I’m glad you stopped if you felt is was getting unhealthy.

  5. I like to track because it helps keep me in line. I always try to make sure I make healthy calorie choices, and it’s easier if I plan and track for me not to overindulge and grab for extra handfuls of foods. Also helps me with the sweet tooth–I usually like to plan my calorie count and foods the night before, and I’ll see the candy bowl in front of me and think-if I eat that candy bar that’s x amount of calories I need to take away from my lunch or dinner, or for that amount of calories I could be eating more fruit or veggies and be a lot more fulfilled. In the past it wasn’t always helpful because I was unhealthily trying to lose weight, but nowadays it really helps motivate me and keep me on track.

  6. Food diaries are the absolute best tool for facilitating weight loss. Statistical fact.
    When I first woke up from my junk-food induced coma and realized I was (again) way too fat, I bought a book on diet and weight loss, written by a business man.

    Key point was to treat calories like money. Create a daily deficit, and you will lose weight and go broke.

    Easy. I lost 40 pounds in three months.

    But I am totally OVER food logging. As long as I don’t eat over-stimulating food, my body, which has thankfully repaired its hunger/satiety gauges through clean whole foods eating, tells me when to quit.

    I eat a lot. 3,000-4,000 calories a day, on average, and no—I’m not working out. Just living. I try to eat as much variety as possible, and tracking ALL THAT FOOD is a pain.

    • Lol I definitely hear you on the variety thing. I find myself sometimes simplifying things or just guessing when I eat a meal with lots of ingredients. I’m happy to hear that you have healed your body that way. I agree that if you are in maintainable that food tracking is probably not a healthy mental activity unless you really need to.

  7. Pingback: The Food Reward Hypothesis: A Rule Of Thumb For All Successful Diets « Maria Mae Stevens

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