Intuitive eating vs. tracking

Mid-week through my let’s-use-technology-to-track-and-see-how-we-go phase, I’m learning a bit more about how I eat and remembering why I’m not entirely a fan of tracking every single calorie. When I started on Weight Watchers about 4 years ago, I tracked my points religiously. I ticked all the boxes for fruit and vegies and drank every glass of water I was supposed to. I also found it really really tough to eat every single one of my points and trust me, I was not on a lot of points. Toward the end, I had 18 points to eat a day and I would get to 15 and wonder what else I could eat when I was so full already.

See, what happens to me when I’m tracking is that I’m hyper-aware of every morsel I put into my mouth and not always in a good way. Yes, I stop myself eating the whole Snickers bar or choosing the salad greens over the pasta but I also tend to go slightly overboard. Until dinner tonight, I’d eaten a total of 900 calories and burnt 350 of those off through my workout and walking to and from said workout. That left me with a net total of 550 calories for the day. Hardly a lot of food. And even after dinner (salmon linguine) I’m still only at a net total of 1000 calories and when you consider that my BMR is about 2200 calories, I’m not eating enough. Even just to get to a net total of 1500 calories, I have some serious snacking to do now.

I end up becoming obsessed with calories and nutrients and how much of my diet seems to be carb based and how much fat there is out there. This is not the focus of my life. I’m going to continue tracking for a bit longer and see how I go. I may end up tracking for a week and then stopping, just giving myself a bit of time to get an idea of how 1500 net calories feels to my body. I got out of whack and stopped trusting my body to feel full and tell me what I needed.

How do you deal with tracking? Do you track? Do you not track?

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8 thoughts on “Intuitive eating vs. tracking

    • I think my problem was that I had forgotten what a normal/good amount of food was so I was overloading on certain things. I’m hoping that by tracking for a bit I’ll get back into the groove and be able to gauge the same amount of food every day without it!

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  2. Yeah, I like to switch back and forth. My problem is not needing to eat more, though. On a day when I work out hard or lift weights, I tend to be very hungry, and probably needing more food. And I get my knickers in a twist if my tracking says I shouldn’t have it. On the other hand, my bits of chocolate and bites of this and that add up after a while, so a few days of tracking seems to do me good.

  3. I’d suggest tracking something that helps build inner awareness and body-trust, here are some ideas:
    1. Track the satisfaction-sustainability factor of eating–that is, how long did a particular meal or snack sustain you?

    2. Track your “vital signs”–that is check-in a few times a day to see how your mood, energy and focus is. (For example, on the day of eating you described above, it seems pretty light–did you notice a difference in energy, mood etc?). These vital signs are subtle.

    Best wishes,
    Evelyn Tribole (co-author, Intuitive Eating)

    • I find that tracking helps for a bit when I go off the tracks – sometimes I get into the habit of eating “healthy” things in excess because they’re healthy and I forget what a good portion is.

      But I’m aiming to get back into intuitive eating because I find it’s more sustainable for a lifestyle, which is what I want this to be.

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