I’ve worked with many food and habit tracking, logging, and journaling tools over the years. What have I found? We all think differently and are motivated in different ways. Here I’ll review what I’ve worked with before, and a few ways to tell which method is best for you.
Calorie and Macronutrient Tracking
Pros: For most people, this can be beneficial for the short term to LEARN. This is a way to learn what types of foods are high in certain macronutrients and micronutrients. You can also figure out a good ballpark calorie range that is right for you. Many of my left brained, numbers driven clients learn and are motivated by this method of tracking. Also any athletes, particularly endurance athletes with a progressive training plan, find this beneficial to increase calories accordingly. This also initially helps us determine any inconsistencies in your diet. I often find that calories REALLY fluctuate from day to day when people start with me.
Cons: This can lead to orthorexia or a bad relationship with food if we get too caught up in the numbers. It is important to note that there is room for error in the accuracy of these tracking tools (from mis-identifying food, to errors with the tracking tool’s database, to individualization in how we metabolize food), therefore getting caught up in the STRICT numbers is not important. For some, this can also be demotivating to making health changes because they find it time consuming and tedious.
When I do recommend a tracking app, it is Nutritionix. There are also many others out there!
A Photo Log
Pros: Beneficial if you are a visual person to “eyeball” your macronutrients, which is the ultimate goal I have for all of my clients. This log can be sent directly to your practitioner for accountability and feedback. Also, this generally encourages clients to add COLOR to their plate, which generally increases variety of micronutrients. Much less time consuming and numbers oriented than tracking.
Cons: Not as beneficial if you aren’t working with a practitioner, since you are not getting feedback. For some, taking photos can be difficult to remember. You also are not getting calorie or other nutritional data from your log.
I use “Healthie” with my clients for this!
A Written Log
Pros: Great for overall reflection, habits, and mindfulness. Writing down and logging requires our full focus, so we are more likely to reflect on our habits and WHY we chose the food that we did. This is more beneficial if you want to dive into the psychology behind your eating, and you feel like your MIND is a huge barrier to you making changes (which is super common). Best if you want to improve your relationship with food
Cons: Again, not getting the data and numbers (which in some cases might not be a particularly bad thing).
I have client use a basic notebook, or I’ve used Wellness journals such as Daily Greatness!