You’ve probably seen the seemingly endless amounts of food tracking apps available, or have heard someone talking about tracking their food, or maybe even seen a post that says “if it fits within in my macros”. These may interest you or they might seem like one more hurdle preventing you from maintaining your new habits. I’m here to put you at ease and show you how food trackers can be beneficial to your progress.
When I was on my weight loss journey, tracking my food was one of the biggest factors that helped me stay on track. Even though I’m not trying to lose any more weight I still track my food to make sure my diet stays consistent. It’s so easy to start “eye-balling” your portions or adding additional small snacks when you’re not focusing on tracking the foods you’re eating each day.
I’m going to show you how to get the most of your food tracking. I personally use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. It works really well for me and I enjoy the different features it gives me. They have a free version that gives you access to track your food and water intake each day. There is also a premium version ($9.99/month or $49.99/year) that gives you access to advanced features like the ability to change your daily calorie/macro goals, automatically timestamp your meals, and the ability to export your food diary via email. This last feature makes it really easy to share your diary with your nutrition coach. While I do highly recommend this app, please shop around and find one that works for you. This post is not sponsored by MyFitnessPal in any way.
Okay, but how could tracking food help ME?! Here are a few benefits of tracking your food and water each day:
It’s even better when you can track with a friend. In this app, you can invite friends to see what you’re logging each day. You can even add your nutrition coach too. This will allow them to see what you’re doing on a daily basis and give you the best feedback possible. Most importantly, it makes you accountable to yourself.
Your body’s changes won’t be instant but each good choice you make will get you closer to your goals. Staying consistent with the plan you’ve received from your coach will not only get you to where you want to be but it will also teach you how to have discipline with your habits for long-lasting changes. Creating this daily habit will start to feel like a normal habit within a few weeks and you’ll become more consistent because of it. Consistency is key to avoid going 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Some apps, like MyFitnessPal, will even give you daily alerts to stay on track.
Just being aware of what and when you’re eating is a huge first step. We don’t always connect how food can affect our mood, energy levels, and ability to focus. Who wouldn’t want to increase their energy!? Tracking also creates an awareness of how many calories and nutrients we’re getting from our food. This can make us reevaluate our portion sizes and/or the overall amount of food eaten. It’s very easy to get busy and over- or under-eat during the day.
Let’s explore a few features that will help you get the most out of your tracking app:
1- EXPLORE TUTORIALS: Your app may offer tutorials to show you how to use all the different features of your app. This 101 course from MyFitnessPal takes you through the different features over a 7-day period. Your app may also have different weekly and monthly challenges to give you even more motivation. These are usually fun and simple to complete.
2- AT-A-GLANCE PROGRESS: Most apps have different display options. Do you prefer to see your calories and nutrients add up during the day or count down? Do you prefer grams or percentages? I personally prefer the option where the grams count down. This helps me make sure that I get all of my calories and macronutrients in by the end of the day.
3- IT’S MORE THAN JUST FOOD: You can track just your food but tracking the other variables in your day will help identify patterns in your habits and moods. Feeling fatigued? Let’s check how much water you’ve had today. Feel like you’re crashing? How long do you wait between meals? Tracking your food intake plus water, exercise, and daily mood can help you see the big picture.
4. LOOK FOR VERIFIED NUTRIENTS: The foods in MyFitnessPal that have a green checkmark next to them have been verified to be accurate. Since anyone in the community can add foods into the system the nutrient counts can fluctuate. You can also search for foods by typing in their name or by scanning their barcode.
5. SAVE YOUR FAVORITE RECIPES: Create and save your own recipes and meal for future reference. This will allow you to add a full meal or recipe to your daily tracking without having to add in every item, every time. It will help you save a lot of time! You can see some of our favorite recipes here.
I hope this helps you on your journey! Let us know what your favorite tracking tips are.
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