To Track or Not To Track

Monday, June 30, 2014

In the past, I have been consistently tracking my food for weeks and even months at a time only to struggle keeping up with it at some point. That usually led to a complete halt of food tracking. Whenever I did not track, I eventually started gaining back weight. So my logic told me, "you have to track to lose." I tried to keep up with it by carrying a little notebook with me and write down all the foods I ate so that I could track them when I would find the time to. Eventually, I realized that I do not want to live like this for the rest of my life. I do not want to obsess over food, measuring and tracking every single bite. I really enjoy eating, and this took away a lot of this joy.

Those who know me, know that I already eat healthy and balanced most of the time. And, no, I will not deny myself an occasional piece of chocolate (or something else that I really enjoy). However, what I had to really work on were serving sizes, a problem many people seem to have (often not even knowingly).

I would say I have a love/hate relationship with tracking. I really love the insight I get from tracking. I see the nutrients I am getting, if I am eating enough protein, too few or too many calories, etc.
I hate the time tracking consumes and how it makes me obsess over the food I eat.
Ultimately, this is not just a weight loss journey I am on, I want to change my life. I want to be able to create a healthy lifestyle that works for me and that I can sustain indefinitely.

So this is what works for me: I eat intuitively and consciously, enjoying the food I eat. I will not eat high calorie/low nutrient foods if they are not absolutely worth the empty calories. For example, I will eat my favorite chocolate on occasion, but I will not eat just a random snack/dessert/candy I see or I am offered if I know that I will merely like it and not absolutely love it. Why waste empty calories on something I do not absolutely love when I can have something nutritious instead? That does not mean I do not try new things. I love exploring new foods, provided they are real foods (more about this another time). From time to time, I will go back to tracking. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a week or two. This lets me check in on myself to see how I am doing when eating intuitively. If I notice any patterns (not enough protein, for example), I know what to tweak in my diet.

Do you track or keep a food journal? What works for you, what does not?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD8054794
    Yes, I am the same way. I noticed that if I was trying to track, and skipped a meal or a day, I would 'think' I blew the whole thing because I forgot to write it down, and then I would just get off the program and say "tomorrow" I will start back, and sometimes it took months for tomorrow to come back.

    So I found what works best for me is to plan the week in advance on paper (actually computer), and then just stick to it. That way I don't have to write anything down, and I usually don't have a problem sticking to it.

    I don't count calories, because I believe as long as I eat healthy, and watch portion control, that counting calories is just not needed. From my years of experience of counting calories, I can pretty much eyeball it and know that eating healthy, is staying in my calorie range.

    Good luck to you! emoticon
    2445 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/30/2014 12:59:26 PM
    After about 2 years on Spark and losing about 20 pounds....
    I started to track. I was very resistant for the reasons that you mention.
    I really did learn about my eating habits, etc.
    I am not sure how I am going to proceed from here on out and am trying to come up with a workable plan like you are.
    2505 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/6/2014 1:53:06 PM
  • no profile photo CD12456517
    i rather spend the time moving my body to burn calories than sitting to track food which is very time consuming...
    i agree with MOM2ACAT to switch to the Food diary on paper, much less time consuming but still aware of what i am eating...

    2505 days ago
    I've been tracking for 3 1/2 years. The one time stopped, I gained weight back. Yes it's time consuming, but for me it's a necessity. I know I need to track in order to hold myself accountable. I, too, allow myself a piece of chocolate, a cookie or some ice cream every now and then I eat very cleanly with little to no processed food for the most part. I have changed my lifestyle and tracking is now a part of it.

    Do what you think is best, but to be honest you already answered your own question...at least in my opinion. You do better when you track! It doesn't take that much time to track. What I bet happens is what happens to me daily.

    I track my food and exercise and then I check on my teams, my friends, read an article, try to get as many points as I can, etc. Take one week and only track your food. Then, get off Sparkpeople. I bet it doesn't take as long as you think. emoticon Good luck!
    2506 days ago
    I did the tracking here on Spark, until a few months after I reached my goal weight.

    I switched to keeping a food diary on paper a few years ago. I no longer count calories, but it keeps me aware of what I am eating, and how many fruit and veggie servings and water servings I am getting. It's worked for me, because I am still maintaining my goal weight. I know my method won't work for everyone, but you never know til you try it.
    2506 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.