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Tracking food intake: What you need to track and why

 

Food Journaling Requirements

An individualized approach to optimizing your diet

In this article I aim to highlight why tracking your food is important and expand upon what you should track and why you should track it.

If something is not going right, or we aren't where we want to be, we need to adjust and in order for us to make an adjustment, we first need an awareness, a certain amount of knowledge that allows us to navigate forward in the most efficient way.

This is what tracking/ journaling your food allows you to do. Map out a plan and follow the route as closely as possible, making adjustments along the way.   

Let's say for example you are driving to a friends house and you are going the wrong way, until you are made aware of your misdirection you wont change course, will eventually stray further away and may drive around for hours leading to frustration and even giving up (made more frustrating when other people are telling you you are wrong without much help redirecting you).  

This is what a lot of people go through when dieting, they dont really know where they are going, how to get there, why they are going there and eventually end up lost and giving up.  

 

No one likes getting lost, wasting time or feeling defeated enough to give up yet this is what we continually seem to do. 

 

The solution of course is creating clarity. Accumulating as much knowledge as you need in order to make the journey as efficient and enjoyable as possible. 

And that's why we recommend not only tracking what you eat, but how much you eat, when you eat, where you eat, and why you eat. 

 

Below I will explain the significance of each and how it contributes a segment to your overall health.  

 

  1. Tracking WHAT you eat.

Our body is reliant upon the energy we get from or food. Within our food there is macro and micro nutrient that we absolutely need in order to function in an optimal manner. 

When we have a diet depleted of vitamins, minerals etc it will play a significant role in how you feel and how you look. Multiple studies have shown that our diet can influence our psychological as well as our physiological well being and we don't need to look far to see how what we eat influences how we look. 

Our body is in a constant cycle of breaking down tissue (metabolic) and  rebuilding tissue (Anabolic) aka our metabolism and we use the building materials (Macro, micro nutrients) contained within food to facilitate this process.

 

 Foods or diets depleted of adequate macro and micro nutrients stifles the bodies ability to repair and impairs function and can even lead to disease.   

Does that mean you need to avoid Ice cream?

No, it means in addition to the ice cream you need to ensure you have met your body's requirements. 

You are not here to be average, just getting by or operating in second gear we are here to fulfil our bodies potential therefore we want to provide it with what it needs, adequate fuel. 

By journaling what you eat you create a picture of not only your preferences, but also what you are lacking and in some cases dieting may actually you require to simply eat more of certain things to achieve your goal before you drastically alter anything else. 

 

2. Tracking HOW much you eat 

Our composition and actual weight is influenced by how much we eat. When we eat more than we burn our body stores this excess energy as fat. When we consume less than we burn our body begins to use the energy stores to fuel our existence (movement, bodily functions). 

 

This is known as Thermodynamics or Energy balance and if followed is the reason why every diet works and if ignored it's why no diet will work. 

 

If anybody claims that the KCAL in vs KCAL model is false, they have the secret to energy creation that has never been seen before. In other words, they are lying.

That is not to say meticulously tracking and weighing your food is the only way to lose weight but whether you are aware of how much you eat or you aren't, the significance of Energy Balance remains the same.  

 

3. Tracking When you eat. 

 

Although not as significant as one may think, when we eat can help us decide what approach works best for us as an individual. Say for example, you like to eat late at night and skip breakfast, that's completely fine as long as it works for you. 

Timing becomes important when our meal time is sporadic and unscheduled and consequently not a priority. Obviously there are going to be times when other things take precedence over you sitting down and enjoying a nutritious meal, but we do want to get in the habit of having a structure and routine that eliminates guessing and allows us to prepare and plan our meals. 

Our body does operate according to a biological clock that prefers structure and routines to allow it to achieve homeostasis and operate optimally. 

 

4. Tracking WHERE you eat 

 

There are several reasons why where you eat will affect your overall health and why tracking this will help create a grander picture of your individual situation.

Where you eat can be an indicator of your level of stress, your work/ life balance, your social circles and your relationship to food and the influence of your environment. 

In order to fully (optimally) digest and absorb food our bodies prefer for us to be in a certain state, commonly known as ‘rest and digest’, antagonist to ‘fight or flight’ as our digestive system relies upon the release of hormones responsive to these two states in order to ‘switch on’. The key difference between the two is the level of stress which is on a continuum of relaxed/ safe to alert/ in danger. 

If you're stressed (rushed, panicked, uncomfortable, fearful) you're likely to eat too quickly, rush the process of mastication (chewing) which influences digesting and absorbing which in turn influences our health (availability of nutrients to fuel us). In addition to this digestion is reliant upon your body to direct blood flow to the stomach and away from muscles (Thanksgiving naps), which may not happen if the body senses danger (whether its a lion or a deadline, our body cannot tell the difference, it just reacts to perceived threat) and thus will not direct adequate blood flow to the stomach to aid in digestion. That's why stress can be a big influence upon our ability to manage our weight, appetite and energy levels. 

 

Our physical environment paints more of a psychological profile for us. Let's say for example you are eating in your car, on your feet, at your desk etc. (not taking time to relax and enjoy the meal) this can suggest a level of stress and again creates an internal environment that can affect our ability to optimize health. 

 

If you are eating out in a restaurant each night this can highlight our preferences, routines, the influence of social circles and pressures that may inhibit you from meeting your health goals (we also tend to drink alcohol when out eating with friends which can be a setback). 

For those of us who habitually grab breakfast from a Starbucks, dunkin donuts etc. the influence of convenience, available vicinity and your preferences and priorities may need adjusting if these behaviors are inhibiting progress. 

5. Tracking WHY you eat 

Why you eat will influence and even control all of the above. The primary focus of eating is to fuel the body.  Secondary needs are met via social interaction, convenience, pleasure, comfort, safety and in more extreme cases eating can provide a form of escapism and even lead to addiction.

When we remove or obstruct our ability to appease our psychological needs, it is only a matter of time before we relapse. That's why it is important to find a balance or replace the source to ensure our needs are met.  

 

If we are made aware of why we are eating, hunger, boredom, sadness, depression, pressured etc. It can help create an awareness of what needs to be adjusted to ensure we create a system that facilitates your needs with the least amount of resistance. 



Putting it all together 

 

When we put all of this together, we create a picture of who you are, which allows us to create a path to who you want to be. 

The accumulation of all the above, how much, when, where, why allows us to decide the right course of action to create a solution tailored to your own individual situation that you can execute with confidence and consistency. 

 

As part of our program, we want to understand who you are, who you want to be and create the path of least resistance that ensures improvements in health, happiness and performance. We understand that exercise and nutrition are vehicles to use, but without a map we can wander around aimlessly and never really get anywhere.  

 

 

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