picjumbo-com_img_6037

Not too long ago, I shared the importance and value of food tracking, if you missed it, check it out here.  It will help give you some of my personal point of view on Food Tracking and why I love it.

Quick recap – I discussed how even though it can be tedious, it’s such a great tool in learning more about what’s working and what’s not working.  It can help you figure out if you’re having food reactions to certain foods. It can show you if you’re having energy crashes because of too much sugar, etc. the list goes on.

I hope, at the very least, it’s convinced you that this is more than just calorie counting. In fact, I don’t even recommend tracking the calorie portion- just want you’re eating and how you FEEL.

This is a VERY important distinction.  And what makes my formula for food tracking a little bit different than what I’ve seen others use it for.

If you can’t tell, I have a serious love affair with food tracking.

When used carefully and thoughtfully, it can be the most useful thing when you’re working on changing your lifestyle.  In fact, it’s the first thing I do with any new client.

However…

When used carelessly, it can be the most dangerous tool.  Tracking calories and what you’re eating mindlessly can have really harmful effects on your long term goals.

Think negative relationship with foods, Think heavy exercise as guilt for poor eating, and in some more serious situations, it can be the catalyst to drastically limiting your food intake- which can be a dangerous, unhealthy road to head into.

Since we’re all about creating a healthy relationship with food and your body, Food Tracking the {un}diet way is crucial.

So, let’s dig a little bit deeper and get into the nitty gritty of what to do after you track. Sure, writing it all down is all well in good, but taking the steps to understand why you’re doing it, what it’s showing you, how to interpret it, and ultimately adjust what you’re eating so the next week, you’re feeling even better!

In my approach to Food Tracking there are 4 crucial steps that can’t be missed in order for your tracking efforts to give the most punch and feedback… and ultimately be used as a guide to having a healthy diet that supports your unique body and lifestyle.

Without further ado, here are the 4 Crucial Steps to Food Tracking:

Track: This may seem like an obvious step, but there are some important things to include in this section… like… what you’re actually eating.  I’m not trying to call you out or anything, but I speak from experience that you’re only lying to yourself when you don’t track what you’re actually eating.  It doesn’t erase the 6 cookies you had during your coffee break, and there’s no harm in doing that, if you’re making the conscious decision to consume them.  The truth is, the more you write down and the more honest you are with yourself, the more you can understand why you’re scarfing down 6 cookies at 3PM.  You might learn that you’re going through a sugar crash and your body is desperately wanting some energy. Without tracking honestly, you won’t figure out the root cause, and there’s always a root.

True story, I used to eat a mini snickers (scratch that, full snickers occasionally) around 3:30 PM every work day, but I didn’t do it over the weekend.  When I got to my Interpret phase, I noticed this and reviewed what I did earlier in the day during the workweek vs. what I did over the weekend. I was able to see a pattern and was then able to adjust my work week routine so I didn’t crave that snickers anymore.  The point is, right it all down. There’s no judgement, only knowledge you can gain to take you steps closer to your healthiest lifestyle.

Reflect: This might be the most important step. But honestly, they all pretty much work in sync. But… let me just say this. There is NO POINT in tracking what you’re eating if you have no intention of doing anything with the information. There I said it. I don’t get the point other than it taking up valuable time during the day.  We’re busy people. We don’t have time to mindless track what we’re eating every day unless we’re going to do something with the information provided. And that information is a wealth of valuable insight. But you only get it if you look back at it. Reflecting back on what you’re eating on a regular basis is HUGE when it comes to understanding and making changes in your lifestyle. It is the most eye opening step in the whole process.  I’m not judging. I’m just reflecting back on my own calorie counting and point tracking days and thinking why did I do this to myself?  It wasn’t until I started reflecting back on what I was tracking that I started making some real headway.  Remember this. Just do it. You’re bound to have some a-ha’s when you take the time to look back at your week.  Be careful though, don’t do it in judgement. Look back with a eye of compassion and for education which leads us to Step 3.

Interpret: Education is key in food tracking.  When you’re reflecting back on the week or weeks prior, look for patterns.  Look at it like a detective would look for clues because they’re there and they will lead you to the culprit. This stage takes some finesse and time to master, but the more you reflect and look for those patterns, the closer you’ll get to figuring out why you’re making some of the same choices day after day. Back to my snickers story… When I saw that I was scarfing down snickers during the workweek only, I started to really look at what I was doing during the week that might be contributing. Turned out, after some investigation, that it was my weekday morning yogurt that was heading me into my sugar spiral.  One small adjustment and good bye snickers… which now takes us to Step 4 – Adjust.

Adjust: So this might be the second most important step… and the most difficult because it takes a lot of patience and trial and error.  But with the right outlook, it’s the most fun.  This is where you play around with the patterns you’ve found in Step 3 start making some changes in your eating routine to see if things are helping or if you need to do some more adjustments.  Continuing with the snickers example, I decided to look at what I was eating on the weekends and noticed that I ate more protein/savory breakfasts instead of quick grab and go breakfasts like I would during the week (since I was typically running out the door).  So, the following work week, I got up a little bit earlier and started making myself a protein based breakfast like scrambled eggs and noticed that less frequently I was craving and eating those afternoon snickers.  Now, getting up earlier every morning to make scrambled eggs might not be realistic, and let me say, that didn’t last forever, but I did continue with that mindset and did some research on some quick, make ahead protein based breakfasts that I could eat during the workweek. But that’s a whole other post for another day.  You get the idea.

So there you have it. Food tracking at it’s best. It takes some dedication and a whole lotta patience.  But with that effort, you will definitely start to see some patterns be steps closer to your long term health goals and feeling like your best self.  When we do this, our food works for us, not against us.

Need a tracker to start? Save this one.

xo.

cristina-signature

0 31