To track or not to track? That is the question.
…And it’s a very important question when it comes to considering the relationship between your mental health and your nutrition.
I want to let you guys in on my personal experience with tracking intake, and speak to what I’ve learned along the way! My preconceived notions of what it would be like and how it would make me feel to track my food were basically completely wrong, BUT I think that has been in large part due to my previously-existing healthy relationship with food.
The state of your relationship with food is key in choosing your nutritional route; throw solely aesthetic or weight-based goals out the window (yeet!) until that relationship is stable. What does that look like?
It’s complicated. And it’s extremely personal. I do not recommend tracking your intake if choosing what to eat is already a stressful or confusing process for you. I would not be having the same experience with tracking my intake had I started my nutrition journey at that place (and this is why I specifically formatted The Hopewell Approach to focus on mindset and nutrition knowledge BEFORE even contemplating tracking intake).
With these necessary disclaimers in place, let’s get into the nitty gritty of my experience with tracking. It’s been a learning and growing experience for sure.
ASSUMPTION: Tracking intake will lead to a restrictive mindset.
EXPERIENCE: Tracking intake allowed me to feel confident in including a wider variety of foods.
It’s true!! Once you can see how a certain food fits into the context of your overall diet, it removes the pressure of having to choose the “best” option every time, because you can actually SEE that the impact of one decision actually has very low return. CONTEXT is KEY, and overall health by a nutritious diet is created by an average of consistently good decisions over time. One less-than-optimal food included in a sea of nutrient-dense choices will not be detrimental, and it’s been cool to see how that data shifted my mindset.
ASSUMPTION: Tracking intake will increase my thoughts about food.
EXPERIENCE: Tracking intake freed up more brain-space since I didn’t spend time wondering if I was adequately fueling my body.
It has been so reassuring to see that the way I’ve been eating and the concepts I teach do, in fact, yield a diet that is nutrient-dense and adequate in energy intake!! My body was already telling me that what I was doing was working, but seeing the macro and micro-nutrient breakdowns has definitely reinforced that building PEC Plates is the easiest way to ensure a health-promoting diet with space for some fun, too. WOO!
ASSUMPTION: Tracking intake will be too time-consuming.
EXPERIENCE: Tracking intake does take planning and execution, but there are efficient ways to expedite the process.
BATCH. COOKING. Boom. It takes a time investment at the beginning of the week, but vastly reduces the time we spend doing dishes or planning meals throughout the rest of the week. We just mix-and-match elements as we go. Luckily we love leftovers 🙂
ASSUMPTION: Tracking intake is only useful for aesthetic or weight-based goals.
EXPERIENCE: Tracking intake can provide useful knowledge outside the realm of aesthetics.
Being able to see the macro breakdown and nutrient-density of different foods has been so fun! It’s given me applicable knowledge that has nothing to do with aesthetics and has given me skills that will allow me to help clients confidently!
ASSUMPTION: Tracking intake will exacerbate my perfectionist tendencies.
EXPERIENCE: Tracking intake has helped me overcome my perfectionist tendencies, but it has taken concentrated awareness & effort.
KNOW THYSELF. I knew going into tracking that I was going to have to watch myself like a hawk and be very in touch with my thoughts and feelings to combat my natural tendency of perfectionism. I committed to this process on the one condition that I would not allow it to drag up thoughts or feelings of unworthiness or shame. Self-awareness is vital, and I knew I was in a place where I could take on this challenge.
Although my experience with tracking has been mostly positive, I am not advocating for everyone to start tracking their intake. I had a very specific reason in doing so: acquisition of knowledge. I wanted to know more about what I was eating so I could better format a nutrition program that would yield desirable results for others without having to track intake. I’ve loved this process so much not due to any specific results I’ve seen (although I have definitely seen aesthetic results), but more so because of the knowledge I’ve gained, and I’m pumped to continue sharing what I know and learn with you all!