Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to take a quick second to say Happy Father’s Day. I don’t think there are many fathers in the main demographic of my blog, but hey, wanted to spread the happiness!
My dad thought the hat looked better with his outfit.
Now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to discuss something that’s been on my mind lately: food tracking apps/food journals. I think that they are really awesome for a lot of people. Whether you’re trying to lose/maintain/gain weight, track macros, or just to get a better idea of what you’re eating and how much is recommended you eat, food tracking apps like My Fitness Pal can be super helpful.
Around December, I realized I really needed to gain some weight. I am 5’9 and weighed about 120 pounds. I had kind of a rough fall semester and became a bit too restrictive with my eating habits. I wanted to get up to a solid 130, and thought the best way to gain weight and make sure I was taking in enough calories, while still being healthy and eating nutritious foods.
I’m not gonna lie, I was reallllllly good at tracking. Everything I ate was logged. However, I have a tendency to become a little obsessive over things (please refer to the fact that the semester prior I became restrictive about foods). I measured everything to make sure I was logging the correct portion, and I found myself not trying little bites of snack just because I wouldn’t know how to log it (I’m sure this is probably a good thing to curb snacking). I meticulously imported recipes my family made when I was eating at home because I wanted everything to be accurate. But I was kind of miserable. I also wasn’t gaining any weight, which was my goal.
Why wasn’t I gaining any weight? Because I never was eating the recommended amount of calories for my small (.5 lb/week) weight gain goal. I’d get nervous once I started getting within ~300 calories of my calorie goal. Often times, I’d eat less calories during the day just in case I ended up going out at night.
Needless to say, I needed to stop with the tracking. So one day, about two months later, I did. I just quit, cold turkey. I deleted the app, logged myself out on my computer, and really haven’t looked back. Obviously, it wasn’t that hard to quit. It’s not like quitting smoking or something, but there are times where I’ve eaten a lot, or have just had a generally unhealthy eating day, and I want to know how many calories I’ve eaten. But then I think about how much it sucked to log everything and how annoying it would be to start back up on My Fitness Pal again.
Recently, I was making a salad for lunch, and I thought about how if I was still using My Fitness Pal, I would feel the need to know exactly what percent of a tomato or how much turkey I was putting on my plate. In that moment, I felt free from that weird time in my life. I’m eating a freaking salad, I know it’s good for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a weird relationship with food. Sometimes I do feel restrictive, and that’s not a good thing. However, I feel like I have a better relationship with food than I did when I was super restrictive last fall, or when I was obsessively logging over the winter. Last night at work, I ate all of the frosting off of a piece of cake that was left over from a function (I’m not a huge cake fan, but I am a huge frosting fan). I ate it and left it at that. I didn’t have to figure out exactly what type of frosting it was or how many tablespoons of it I ate. Being comfortable with doing that seems really great. I eat healthy, “nutritionally dense” (I’ve heard that term a lot lately and I’m into it) foods most of the time, and I find them delicious, and then I eat frosting off of cake because I find that delicious as well.
I guess I’m trying to be more balanced. Feel good, not guilty, about everything I eat, “good” or “bad.”
Also, I want to restate that I think apps like My Fitness Pal are really great for a lot of people. I’m probably more of an exception because of my anxiety/obsessive nature. For many people it is a great tool to track food/macros/exercise/whatever else.
That was a bit of a personal post, but I just wanted to get my thoughts out there!
What do you think about food tracking apps?
If you have used/are using My Fitness Pal (or something similar), do you find it helpful, or does it not work for you either?