On one of my teams the Question of the Day was about using the SP Nutrition Tracker. My reply to that question got a bit wordy as I went through my own experience with the thing. I thought it might be good to put what I wrote in a blog and maybe even add some details that I (graciously) left out of my thread post. Apologies to my team mates for putting them to sleep.
Here's (basically, with additions) what I posted on that thread:
I used the tracker the first year I was here on SP and I lost my excess weight. I also lost some freedom and sensibility. Too much focus on nutrient details based on faulty FDA recommendations and calories. During that time I was pushed, through the tracking process, to look up many foods to see where nutrients lie. That part was good. For instance I learned that portabella mushrooms contain much more potassium than bananas without the calories (sugar).
But, I know that while using the tracker I wasn't eating as nutritiously as I am now--too easy to get all wound up in keeping the calories down and not really addressing eating habits in general. Like holding back on nutritious meals so that I could eat some ice cream while watching a movie late at night. It was like a game.
It (tracking my food) also used up a lot of time and gave me extra stress as I weighed everything out. You see, I don't buy stuff in packages with handy dandy "nutrition facts" labels so I had to do all that myself. Example: Weigh each and every ingredient before putting it into the pot (or whatever). Weigh the WHOLE DARN MESS when I was done and then calculate all the important nutrient numbers that the whole thing had and enter all that into my "favorites" (how stupid, right?) I had to go to more than a few different websites to find the actual nutrient counts and then just use my own intuition (if I had any left at this point) to compromise between the differing data that is available.
I would make a chart for my culinary creations with the important nutrients going across the top and the ingredients going down the left side and then I would spend a silly amount of time filling in all the squares in the middle to come up with the totals going across the bottom.
Okay, you can see this coming. I was good for a few days scooping up a meal for myself out of that pot, weighing my portion and VOILA! "Just" put it in the tracker and I've got my numbers..."just"...sigh.
So, next time I want to make something like that dish I have to do it EXACTLY the same, weighing out the same amounts of everything without adding or subtracting or using up something that's in the refrigerator, or, ...sigh, ...figure out any changes I made. Oh boy.
Truth: I NEVER make the same thing the same way twice! WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I THINK I WAS DOING??? I know, I was driving myself (and my husband) crazy!
So, after I became physically and mentally exhausted with trying to cook like I normally do AND keep track of all the numbers, I eventually morphed over to eating things in packages (Oh, "healthy" things mind you, ahem)--paying attention to how many calories in a slice of bread, 1/4 cup of cottage cheese, can of soup, piece of chocolate. Oh, I kept eating fresh veggies but only by themselves so it was easy to weigh them. Still, I compromised my foods to cater to the Nutrition Tracker and the calorie beast's threats. I got skinny--LOVED IT!
When I jumped off the tracker merry-go-round I put the weight back on and then some. And by that time I had a problem that I never had before. I became food obsessed--I got the "eating disorder" disease. Well, the good thing about that is that now I know what that feels like whereas I really didn't understand it before. I figure it was all that focused tracking of food that triggered the disease and since then I've avoided all tracking.
Now I am much more focused on eating the most nutritious foods I can get. I have almost totally eliminated the foods that cause disease and weight gain, namely sugars and grains and instead concentrate on lots of veggies, local, small farm raised meats, eggs, dairy and wild-caught fish. I don't eat breads, cakes, muffins, pasta, cereals. Dessert for me is a bit of brie on a seed cracker or with apple slices--yum! Cheese and apples feel delightful to me now. And a glass of wine or a small mixed drink. Also, I am VERY cognizant of my meal portions; I take a hard look at my plate before I sit down to eat it making sure that it is no bigger than my stomach no matter what my mouth drool level is. My portions are small and satisfying. I follow the No S style of eating...sort of. No snacks between meals, no sweets - maybe a small piece of dark chocolate on the weekend only, but even that is being fazed out; I find sweets less and less satisfying and THAT is a total miracle. Feels good.
My weight is a couple of pounds less now than it was when I began SP (135) which means that I have lost about 6 pounds since my high of 139 (after quitting the tracker and slumping into over-eating). I feel sane again. I am confident that I am losing weight very slowly, very reasonably in the most healthy way for me. It's taken me about a year to lose that 6 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like very much to a person with 50 or even 100 pounds to lose but when you get down to where you only need to lose 10 or 15 more you will see what I mean. It's harder to lose just one pound at that stage than it is to lose 10 at the top of the scale. You must learn to eat very little as your calorie needs near the bottom of the scale will be much less.
I feel free.
WARNING: Unsolicited advice coming up for people who want to take their health seriously:
Use the tracker to educate yourself about foods and portions. Don't take the FDA numbers on the nutrition labels too seriously because their recommendations are all off anyway (I found out), just get a ballpark view of your eating habits so that eventually you can eyeball things by yourself.
Move toward getting refined, conventional chemical-laced grocery store foods out of your kitchen and replace them with lots of fresh veggies especially the green leafy ones. Cut WAY down on all grains, this includes corn which though it is marketed as a veggie is not. It is one of the most sugar-filled grains.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan don't fall for the store-bought "vegan" junk. Make your own veggie patties and other nutritious things. Remember, you and your wallet are sitting ducks too.
If you aren't afraid of eating meat then do so with abandon. Don't be afraid of eating meat that has fat. Be afraid of eating chicken with arsenic and beef with antibiotics and hormones. Eat fresh, ground raised eggs and chicken. Eat wild, line-caught fish.
TRUTH: Fat is not what makes us fat; sugar is, in all its forms. "Fat Free" has not helped us get either thin or healthy. However, make note of this: trans fats are a killer, read: hydrogenated oils! Avoid, avoid, avoid!
Don't eat out except on rare, special occasions and then go to a restaurant that actually serves REAL food. Chain restaurants like Red Lobster, Olive Garden etc serve the same junk as McDonalds and just charge you more for a table and a bunch of staff members singing you "Happy Birthday" Don't fall for that; stay home and eat good food with family and friends.
As the good Doc Mercola (bless his weird heart) says: "Take control of your health"