Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain muscle or eat a well-balanced diet, there is a slew of all too trendy ways to do it. Fad diets, weight loss gimmicks and supplements that promise instant results are lurking on every corner of every social media platform. While many of these method
s include expensive equipment or questionable advice, one tool that we all have at our fingertips is the ability to track our intake. Here are the pros and cons to help you decide if it's the proper method for you.
It Creates Awareness
Tracking your intake gives you a crystal clear look at your current habits. This gives you a definitive starting point. If you do not confront your current eating behaviors, you won't know the problem areas and where to make changes.
Logging your food is cheap and easy for anyone to do. You don't need expensive gadgets, coaches or plans. Download a free app or grab a notebook and pen. It takes only a minute to fill out your food intake after eating. You can take a little time to write it all down at the end of the day (although this method is not as accurate because we tend to forget little snacks here).
Even if you aren't ready to make changes or create a nutrition plan, evidence shows that simply writing down what you eat can cause you to eat better. This happens almost as a control effect as writing down your food and drink might have you choose a piece of fruit over a brownie.
It Creates Historical Data
Keeping a food journal acts as a database of dietary choices. Just as you might go back in your training logs to see what worked and what didn't in preparing for a race or competition, you can look back at how you were eating when you felt your best or worst.
It Can Be Time Consuming
Logging every bite and sip can be a lot of work, especially for individuals who eat frequently throughout the day. Searching a database for each ingredient takes a bit of work and patience but once you get the hang of it, it does become easier—I promise.
It's Not The Best Choice for Those With Any Disordered Eating
Facing your food choices every day can be encouraging for some. However, for those with disordered eating inclinations, it can lead to being overly strict and preoccupied with food intake.
Tracking your food is a simple and valuable tool for identifying problem areas of your diet, leading you to successful changes. Be truthful with your records for the best results; write down more than just the calories. Include things like energy, weight, mood, and performance. It is best to record as much info as possible but make it work for you. If recording the brand, portion, time and every other little detail is too much, dial it back a bit and record the food and drink without the rest.
Tracking your food will usually be the first thing that a nutritionist/dietician will have you complete so that they have an awareness of your dietary habits, so why not develop that awareness for yourself.