How many of you track your food intake? How long have you been doing so, and do you recall any revelations you had when you started?
I resisted meal tracking like it was the devil. I assumed I would confirm, through tracking my food intake, that I was eating way more than my body physically needed every day.
I thought when I started tracking my meals my terrible relationship with food would become glaringly obvious.
I thought I would see confirmation that I was “bad.” That I was flawed. That I wanted food for the sake of having food. That I was using food for emotional comfort and was eating far more than my body needed.
I assumed I would learn I needed to cut my intake dramatically in order to live the healthier lifestyle I’m striving to achieve.
And, of course, I expected cutting down my caloric intake would be brutally challenging. I expected I would be even more hungry and would feel even more deprived all the time than I already did.
Plus, psychologically, I feared I would feel I was punishing my body and trying to force it to conform to rules that didn’t feel in any way natural.
I didn’t want to put myself through all of that. So, I didn’t track my meals, and didn’t want to start doing so.
This changed about two weeks ago when I had some breakthroughs about my overeating tendencies. (Thoughts on Overeating)
I’m so glad now that I gave it a try. As it turns out, I was wrong about how meal tracking might go for me. Horribly, horribly wrong.
None of my fears have come to fruition.
In fact, I have learned that prior to starting to track my meals, the way I was trying to eat was setting me up for failure. My expectations for myself were horribly off base. But until I started tracking my meals, I didn’t realize it.
Tracking my meals using MyFitnessPal has shown me that I was doing everything wrong.
Table 1: Previous “Ideal Day”
|Breakfast: 3 eggs fried in butter||251|
|Lunch: Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage Creole (no rice) (recipe)||287|
|Dinner: Easy Paleo Chicken Soup (recipe)||302|
Table 2: Yesterday’s Meals
|Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese, tomato, smoked tuna||535|
|Lunch: Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage Creole with brown rice||357|
|Dinner: Easy Paleo Chicken Soup||302|
|Snack: Truefit Meal Replacement Protein Shake with Almond Coconut Milk||240|
The first table shows what I always expected of myself. It shows how I was trying to force myself to eat. If I had managed to eat that way on any given day, I would have thought of it as a “good” day. I would have been very proud of myself.
Until I started tracking, I did not realize my “ideal” was a day when I was consuming less than 1000 calories. I thought my three meals were sizable and appropriate.
If I wanted more food than what I was eating it was a sign there was something wrong with me. If I gave in and ate more, I felt like I had failed. It was a “bad” day. If I had a bad day, I felt I was bad. I had misbehaved. I felt awful about myself.
There are a TON of problems with this mindset that I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say it is one of the hallmarks of a seriously dysfunctional and toxic relationship with food. If this idea is new to you, I recommend looking at this article: Reject The Diet Mentality: The Futility Of Dieting
The point I want to make here is my nutritional goals were unattainable and unhealthy, and I didn’t realize it.
Under 1000 calories? No wonder I was unable to control my eating. No wonder I would overeat all the time. My goals were unreasonable and unhealthy, and I was hungry!
Now that I am tracking my meals, I’m eating a lot more every day than I’m used to. It’s actually proving to be surprisingly difficult to meet my nutritional needs. In fact, I struggled to get my calorie and protein intake up to a healthy level yesterday.
Hence needing a separate snack. Having the protein shake on standby for those times when I know my body needs more food has been incredibly helpful. Making sure I keep cans of tuna fish and sardines around helps, too.
Recognizing that I hadn’t been eating enough has shown me that the reason I kept wanting to eat more wasn’t that there was something wrong with me. I didn’t lack self-control. My desire to eat was legitimate. This has been revelatory and deeply emotionally satisfying.
Did you make any similar realizations when you started tracking?