Food Logging

I’m a fan. I’ve been logging my food daily on My Fitness Pal since January 2, 2013. In the beginning it helped me see –

  • how the calories added up (and how quickly)
  • how my idea of a serving size compared to the real world (nowhere near close)
  • how the amount of soda I drank was at, or over, half the calories I was allotted by MFP
  • how little water I drank (and by little, I mean none really)
  • how little vegetables I consumed (and I actually love veggies, don’t know why I wasn’t eating them)
  • how high my processed sugar intake was (that number would have killed my dentist)
  • how little fiber I consumed (enough fiber makes the world a brighter, happier place)
  • how poor my food choices were and how by some miracle,  I was only 248 lbs.

Food logging can be annoying. It takes time, especially in the beginning. Trying to eat foods where you can’t find the numbers is stressful. Trying not to look at the numbers as you log 5 half-cup servings of ice cream (who in their right mind thought up one half-cup of ice cream as a serving? Even now, my brain won’t let me accept less than three). Realizing that a lot of the foods you ate on a regular basis are so high in sodium, it’s amazing you’re not a beef jerky.

It takes time to embrace logging. Now, I can’t see stopping any time soon. I pre-log my food for the day, either that morning or the night before. This lets me use it as a guide or a menu to follow. It’s much easier for me, instead of logging as I go along and finding out I have 30 calories left for dinner. It’s easy to tweak if I do make a change, but having that template to follow takes the stress out of it and allows me to enjoy my food. I’m also now at the point where trying to pre-log and hit my macros (protein/fat/carb) numbers is a game.  I get a weird satisfaction out of hitting the numbers or getting really close. My dietitian calls me a “Ninja Food Logger” and I love that.

MFP makes it easy to do online, or on your phone or tablet with it’s app. So do a lot of other programs. Some people stick with pen and paper and write theirs out, which is another great idea. MFP has a barcode scanner on it’s app, so you can log that way without manually adding in the numbers, or you can use it while food shopping if the nutritional info isn’t on the label, and see if what you’re holding in your hand is worth it to you. I think of my calories as money, I have a certain amount to spend every day, if I don’t spend it, I lose it. I want to get the best value for my money. Three hundred calories may be fine for a food I like, but not worth it to me for something I don’t really care as much about.

Food logging, however, is not for everyone. If it’s going to stress you too much, it can cause you to spiral in the other direction. Or if you have a history of an eating disorder, studies have shown it can exacerbate that condition or interfere with the recovery process. For those who can, it’s recommended doing it, even for just a few weeks, to see what you’re eating, how much, and how you can make successful changes to improve your diet and your overall health.

It’s a great tool when used correctly.

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