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Why you should track your food

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A lot of SparkPeople articles are on the fluffy side, but this one makes a really good point.


In the last year I tracked almost daily, except for a few months during my busiest time of year at work. Guess which months saw almost no progress? And no, I didn't substantially change what I ate and how I moved, I mostly just didn't bother tracking it. But when I got back on board at the beginning of this year it was really easy to identify areas that needed to be cut or tightened up or improved upon, because BAM! it was right there in front of me.

One of the most powerful parts of tracking for me is food "budgeting". I already know in advance that on any given day I'm probably going to have 4-6 cups of coffee or decaf and 3-5 ultralight beers. If I put the figures in the tracker first thing in the morning I can see right off the bat how much is left for me to consume in the way of protein, fat, and carbs, (and, marginally, calories). It doesn't always lead to better choices, but sometimes it does.

Yesterday is a good example. I usually try to pack my lunch for work, but this week the fridge was a little unfriendly, so on Friday I decided to just buy something at the cafeteria. There aren't all that many good low carb choices, and I'm BORED TO DEATH with the salad bar, so my big choices were between a Chicken Philly and a burger. Well, the Angusburger is not bad, and the Chicken Philly is not anywhere near as good as they used to make it, so I went ahead and pre-entered the burger in the tracker. Wow. After having had a really big breakfast as well, having the burger would have made my dinner pretty danged skimpy.

When I got to the grill I was surprised to hear my mouth say "Give me a Chicken Philly." Somewhere between my desk and the dining room my subconscious had been having a little committee meeting with the rest of my body and the decision was made.

Good thing, too. The chicken still wasn't great, but it wasn't as grody as I was imagining, either. I still have to fill in the blanks for a few things I ate last night, but, overall, I finished in a good range. And another lesson learned/reinforced!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SUNSHINE5268
    Great post and so very real, ty for sharing and I agree with you that tracking food consumption to see where I am going and where I have been.

    Smiles :)

    also thank you for teaching me about what carbs do for you, hugs
    1825 days ago
    I love this blog....
    you have such a funny and relatable way of putting things!
    You are right though about tracking...it is the one thing I hate to do, but I know how helpful it is. If I want success, it is a must do!
    You are just awesome.
    1828 days ago
    Perfect! For me, tracking is critical...it is the difference between failure and success. I have been making choices based on what I have to enter into my tracking app. It keeps me honest and makes me SEE what is happening. Seeing is believing! If I make the decision to eat it, I live with looking at the results and understanding that could be the reason why my scale isn't moving like I think it should!

    This isn't rocket science...it's cold hard facts that we all know and have heard over and over again. For me, I either choose to track or not to track. That's equivalent to losing weight or not losing weight (or even gaining weight).

    I like to have a few beers a few nights a week too (usually Tuesdays and Fridays) and I do count them. I add them in early too so I know what I can eat through the day. If I didn't do this I would NOT lose weight. I know alcohol isn't the best choice but I work hard all week and I enjoy a few here and there. I don't want to have to give up everything!

    Funny how our brains sometimes work for us rather than against us even when we may not be aware.

    Thanks for posting this article. More reinforcement!!

    1831 days ago
    I track every day - and like y ou, if I know ahead of time that I'm going to have something out of the ordinary, I'll put it in the tracker in the morning - that way it's already counted. Makes sense and makes it easier to track instead of saying, "oops, I had a xxx".

    When I don't track is when there are problems..
    1831 days ago
    Tracking is an absolute for me to lose. If I am not tracking, I am most likely not eating right.
    1831 days ago
    Yes -- tracking what I eat is a big help for me too. The Favorites and the ability to log a recipe and the number of servings and, so, nutritional content, is hugely helpful. It takes time, but the scanner on the mobile app helps tremendously.
    1831 days ago
    Well said! I am with you on your blog and your comments. Low carb doesn't take will power for me either.
    1832 days ago

    "... my subconscious had been having a little committee meeting with the rest of my body..."

    I've had that experience on more than a few occasions. I think it comes from making a basic decision about what values you're really committed to. There have been a few times when the "subconscious caucus" showed me that I was apparently more committed to hedonism than to health. I like it better when it works the other way.
    1832 days ago
    Check out my blog QQ "A day in my life" This is the way I used to eat. I am afraid a lot of us didn't even realize what we were doing to ourselves.
    1832 days ago
    That is pretty awesome, Woubbie! I use menu planning the same way; I know if I deviate from my plan, it's likely going to be a problem, so it helps keep me motivated. It's amazing how small, untracked variations can really negatively impact your daily intake plan; conversely, it's amazing how small changes (like the chicken sandwich instead of burger) can also positively impact your daily plan, too!
    emoticon emoticon
    1832 days ago
    You know, the funny thing is that I don't feel that low carb takes ANY resolve. It takes a lot of reminders of what's good for me and what's not, but no willpower much at all. I have virtually no cravings, so no willpower is needed.

    On the other hand, I really have NEVER forbidden myself a couple of the things that make my mouth or my brain happy. Peanut M&M's still make me really happy, though the most I have lately is maybe 2 per day. Beer still makes me happy, though I've weaned myself very slowly to the point where I'm actually only drinking near-beer. (Dark secret: I've NEVER loved the taste of beer, and the stronger the flavor the less I like it, but wine gives me a headache in anything more than tiny quantities and hard liquor is not a road I want to go down. So near-beer is just fine by me!)
    1832 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/20/2013 12:22:18 PM
    Way to go on the use of the tracker. It really does help in the ways you have well pointed out.

    I admire your resolve in sticking to low carb! It takes stamina for the long haul for sure. That decision came right from your will. Good on ya' mate!
    1832 days ago
    Don't have to tell me twice....I'm a big fan, if nothing else for the accountability it forces me to have.

    These days I primarily use it to track my macro-nutrients, making sure I'm balanced the way I want to be, especially making sure I get enough protein and don't overdo carbs
    1832 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/20/2013 11:35:19 AM
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