I think it’s a great question, so I wanted to share my thoughts here.
As is the case with most questions worth asking, the answer to this question is:
On what, you ask?
It depends on why you’re doing it.
Tracking food & drink via an app or even writing it on paper does nothing more than collect information. Like a traffic study, poll, or survey, tracking food collects pieces of data over a period of time that can be used to make future decisions.
3 Great Reasons to Track Food/Drink
If you are starting a weight loss or fitness journey, tracking can establish a baseline from which you can compare after 30, 60, 90 days. Knowing where you start is important so that you can see progress unfold.
If you feel stuck in your weight loss or fitness progress, tracking can be very helpful & insightful. It can shed light on where you might need to make some changes or swaps in order to make progress. It also creates more mindfulness and awareness of your eating habits.
If you want to double check your own skills of portioning food, macro tracking, etc, tracking food will give you the exact numbers to compare. If you think you’re getting about 100g protein daily, and tracking shows that you’re only getting 60g, this info can be extremely useful to adjust your intake.
However, there can be a slippery slope for some people… and tracking can go from helpful to hurtful.
3 Reasons to STOP Tracking Your Food/Drink
If you use the info from tracking as evidence for punishing yourself about the food you ate, tracking can be extremely harmful to your psychological state.
If you start obsessing over your ability (or inability) to track food/drink, it no longer serves a healthy purpose and becomes a negative detraction in your life. You should be able to go out for a meal (and not track) without feeling anxious or stressed.
If you associate a “good day” with staying well under your daily calorie number, then you are using tracking for the wrong reasons. The goal is never to deprive, starve, or underfeed yourself.
There definitely are great reasons to track your food/drink. It can be really helpful, and all it takes to get reliable information is about 7 days worth of info.
But remember: Just like a traffic study, poll, or survey, the point isn't to collect data ad nauseum….the point is to capture data for a specific period of time and use it to make future decisions.
So, should YOU track your food???
If you do it for one of the first 3 reasons I listed, then yeah it can be helpful from time to time.
But if you do it for any of the last 3 reasons, there are definitely healthier and more positive ways for you to check in on your nutrition.
- Coach Michelle