Food tracking is a 15-minute a day proven tool for weight loss and maintenance. Those who track daily get the best results.
If you have the best intentions but struggle to track regularly, you’re not alone. Here are some common barriers to consistent food tracking and ideas for overcoming them.
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You don’t have time.
It takes about 15 minutes a day to track your food intake. You can do it while waiting for an appointment, riding in the car, watching TV, or talking on the phone.
You start strong but quickly lose interest.
Be specific about what you’re tracking. If you’re not sure what your goals are, you won’t know if you’re meeting them or not. You’ll soon lose interest.
In addition to tracking protein and calories, you may want to set short-term goals. For example, if you find you’re skipping breakfast, a plan may be to drink a protein drink on your way to work. Once you get that habit in place, you may decide to track something else.
Highly processed food is easy to track. Home-cooked food is more challenging.
- Select a similar item from the app’s list.
- Calculate the nutrition information in your recipe. If it’s one you use a lot, it may be worth the time. There are a lot of free sites that will do this online. MyFitnessPal also has this feature.
- If you don’t have time at the moment to figure out the nutrition info on a meal, take a picture and go back later when you have a few minutes.
- Don’t expect perfection. You will become more accurate with more practice. You’ll also find that tracking gets easier over time.
Put reminders in place until tracking becomes more automatic. You may set the alarm on your phone, put notes in conspicuous places (in the refrigerator, on your desk, in your lunch box, etc.).
Get in the habit of tracking before you bite. Go back and adjust the amount if you eat less (or more) than you intended to.
You aren’t making the best food (or drink) choices and are embarrassed to write them down.
Rather than giving up, be kind to yourself. Try to take the emotion out of it and learn from the data you are gathering. Look at the numbers and plan to correct course and get back on track. Consistently tracking, even on the “bad” days, will help you reach your goals.
You don’t need to track forever. Once you get into a sound eating routine and your weight is stable, you may be able to back off. Just pick your tracker back up again if you have a significant change. A new job, a new family member, an injury, or training for a running event can throw your eating plan out of balance.