The world revolves around numbers, whether its sales figures, examination marks or your WEIGHT. To know the transformation, you need to keep track of all the figures.
My clients frequently make comments like, “I eat lots of fruits and vegetables” or “I don’t drink that much,” but when they begin to track, they realize just how off the mark their perceptions are from reality. It’s essential human nature—that we like to exaggerate our success.
Keeping a track of what you eat is not only essential if you are looking to lose weight; but sometimes it is also about staying healthy and maintaining your weight.
Didn’t get it? Read on to understand it better.
- An eye opener: Many a times, we mindlessly munch on a lot of things that we don’t even take into consideration when thinking about calories. For instance, on our frequent trips to the kitchen, we pop a few bits of farsan, sip half a cup of cola, relish a jelly sweet, etc. which we rarely remember. This munching habit is a great indicator of how insufficient your main meals generally are. Well, you can change that to avoid sugary or empty-calories. Just keep a record of them and get ready for a surprise.
- The mood bingers: A lot of time we let our mood control our food. I had a friend whose husband was busy gobbling down burgers and milkshakes while his wife was screaming with pain in the labor room. Any sane person would consider him insanely insensitive, but that was his stress-coping strategy at play.. A lot of times we overeat due to stress and eventually regret it. Writing your different moods on the day of overeating will help you keep a tab of it. It will also help you to look at your eating habits objectively and break away from the cycle.
- Portion control: While I don’t restrict my clients in terms of what food they should avoid, but I do put utmost importance on what kind of nutrients and portion sizes they consume.. For example, a 6” Pizza will give you the same calories as a grill chicken or Dal makhani; chicken and dal are both rich in proteins while pizza in carbohydrates and fat. When you log what you eat, you will realize that when you eat foods rich in protein like dals, sprouts, paneer, lean meat they keep you satiated and full for longer hours, and away from overeating. Logging your meals on our app not only helps you keep a count on your calorie intake, but also tracks your various nutrient intakes, in turn helping you to make smarter food choices. The app curates your meals keeping in mind your taste preference and health goals.
- Myth about food groups: So in lunch, you eat dal, veggies, roti or rice thinking that you have got all food groups on your plate. But for all you know, you end up eating 3 rotis or a big portion of rice and small portions of dal and veggies, and feel happy about your meal, because you consumed all food groups. However, did you consume enough of essential food groups like veggies, fruits, whole grains and adequate amounts of dairy, proteins, meats? Or did you take only small amounts of processed foods, sugar and salt? Only tracking can tell you. Tracking can help you go beyond calories and macro nutrients and understand the right food groups and how much you consume each of them.
- Know your food allergy triggers: Nearly 2 weeks ago I had this severe outbreak of skin rashes all over my body and had itchy skin. There was certainly something that I had eaten which triggered the allergic reaction and I had an angry blotchy skin for the next 1 week. The easiest thing that most people do is pop an anti-allergen which does its job and you forget about it until it reoccurs. To ensure that it doesn’t reoccur, it is essential to track back to what you have eaten a few hours prior to the allergic reaction to figure out which food triggered the reaction. For people suffering from conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who are confused about what to eat when they are out of the house as they are sensitive to a long list of foods, tracking their foods can help. For diabetics too, it’s a great tool to monitor blood sugar levels, and even for people suffering from thyroid and a host of other conditions, tracking food can help in improving their condition.
- Track when you eat out: One of the most frequently asked questions is “What do I eat in a
restaurant?” My answer is – “It doesn’t really matter what you eat outside, because it’s restaurant food and you don’t really know what ingredients have gone inside, their quantity and the fat content. For example, when you order a tandoori dish assuming it is not fried, but you still don’t know how much fat has been used to cook it. Or if the dish contains vegetables or other proteins in the proportion you wanted. So for all you know, your 1 meal outside can be equivalent to almost your entire day’s calories. Hence, it is useless to track what you eat when you eat outside.
By tracking and logging what you eat you may begin to see that you are missing entire food groups that could be potentially be depriving you of important nutrients. The point of food tracking isn’t to police or judge yourself, or even to grade yourself; it’s to learn about yourself, which is the first step toward adopting healthy changes that work long term.
Hitanshi is a Dietitian and lifestyle management coach and connoisseur of healthy food. She has more than 15 years of experience in fitness industry and believes that the recipe for happiness lies in healthy living. She is a food blogger, frequent traveler and a firm believer in eating right and not eating less….