“I eat healthy but can’t lose weight” is a common comment I hear. Often people are right – they are eating ‘healthy’, it’s just that they aren’t in a caloric deficit so therefore aren’t losing weight.
Tracking your food is a great way to control your calories and is not so much about restricting your diet as it is about eating the right amount of foods. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to eat healthy all the time, but portion control is possible. Knowing exactly what you put in your mouth has great benefits from a fat loss and overall health perspective:
1. You stay accountable
When you start tracking your meals you become accountable to yourself, and you can track your progress better. Within the first couple days of tracking your meals and their calories, you might be shocked to see how much or how little you eat.
2. Helps you understand nutritional variety
Each food group provides us with nutrients crucial for maintaining health. By tracking your food intake you can see your macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and know what you need to eat more or less of (depending on your goals). You may begin to see that you are missing entire food groups (i.e vegetables, dairy) and therefore missing out on vital micronutrients (vitamins and minerals like vitamin c or calcium). You also have the ability to indulge in your favourite treats, knowing that you’ll still lose weight (if you’re in a caloric deficit) and they won’t harm your overall health if in moderation to your diet in general.
3. You can see where you are already making the right choices
When you start tracking your intake it will show you what you are doing well already. It’s important to continue with these habits so that you don’t have to start from scratch. Building on what you are currently doing and taking small steps to improve your eating habits will help you to be more successful!
4. Positive mindset
Tracking your foods gives you immediate feedback on how your choices accelerate or hinder your progress. Self tracking also lets you put minor mistakes into perspective, and take action to correct those mistakes. You can break your larger goals into smaller, more manageable daily targets. This can make dieting almost like a strategy game. It also lets you be more flexible about your eating and exercise habits.
Do not forget to track all the little extras; milk and sugar in your coffee, condiments, chocolates from your coworker’s hidden stash, beverages (including alcohol), etc. You may be shocked to find out how many calories are in these forgotten treats. These are also easy items to cut out or substitute with healthier options.
Give tracking your food a shot – ensuring you set time everyday to record your food. You’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes and what great benefits you can achieve with this knowledge.