Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Thanks to BOSNER75, who pinged me last night to ask how I manage to track my nutrient intake so closely. It's easy - I use SparkPeople's nutrition tracker!
The basics are just that, right? Well, okay. Here's how you can streamline your nutrition plans:
--Add the foods you eat all the time to your favorites by checking the box that says, "Add to Favorites" in the Add A Food window, before you add the food to your tracker. I've noticed that sometimes the window will tick the box automatically, and other times not. Anyone know why?
--Keep track of the food that you eat which is not in the database, and add it with the "Enter a Food Not Listed." Be sure to add as much detail as you can glean from the nutrition information on the box/package.
--You can add recipe foods to your tracker via SparkRecipes. On the recipe page, there is a link which says, "Add to Meal Planner." Clicking that link will open the Add A Food window, and that recipe can be made a favorite or just entered on your nutrition tracker for the day.
--If you want to track additional nutrients and other information, click on "Edit Nutrition Goals." This takes you to the default page with your suggested nutrition information and goals. Here, you can edit settings and add nutrients to track.
I track lots of things, like magnesium and zinc, which are important to me (dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are something I've had trouble with), as well as the common things like sodium and calcium. There are something like 75 different nutrients you can track at SP (remembering that not all food products have those various things listed).
Here, you can add other goals to your Goals page - like "Listen to a Get-Up-And-Go Song 1x per day" - as well as turn on and off SP meal planners.
--You can track just about anything you put into your mouth on SP - vitamins of all sorts, diet sodas and flavored waters - which contribute to your calorie and nutrition goals.
--Using the Daily Feedback is so important to tracking. I like to see where I've met my goals, or not. But where the real info is, is in the timeline graphs, where you can view the past 7 (or more days). Then you can run reports for daily, weekly, or monthly intake to get a better picture of your overall averages. I like to look at my intake weekly as an overview of where I am and where I need to work on things.
--Also the Graphs which show your food ratios and the % of your macronutrients and % of calories by meal are a quick and easy way to determine where you need to reevaluate your overall eating patterns. My ratios for protein, carbs and fat are off from SP's recommendation; however, I'm diabetic, so I do not have the carbohydrate requirement that other folks might. So my protein intake is higher. I can see that via the graphs and know it looks okay - for me.
--You can print out and export your daily nutrition to an Excel file by clicking on See Today's Full Report. I'm not QUITE that dedicated. :)
There is a nice video tutorial for the Nutrition Tracker, too. Hope you all use this - DEFINITELY the most important part of any plan to get healthy. It's 80% nutrition - wish I'd believed that from the start!