By Erin McKenna RDN, CDN
Holding yourself accountable of what you eat is a great way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that recording what you eat and drink increases the chances of reaching your weight loss goals.
Some patients find it tedious; however, keeping food records:
- Increases self-awareness. You really have to reflect and think about exactly what and how frequently you ate all day. It also increases awareness of portion size.
- Raises awareness of the amount of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates are in a particular food item. Some people may drink liquid calories and not realize how many grams of sugar or calories they are consuming. Tracking your intake on an app will help you to understand what exactly you are putting into your body.
- Helps you understand the overall allocation of your calories among macro-nutrient categories. If you’re just looking at calories, you may not realize how much of that is coming from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that we consume 10-35% of calories from protein, 20-35% of calories from fat, and 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates. When you start tracking you may realize your typical diet does not fit these recommendations. This information may help you figure out what to tweak.
- Helps you to understand portion control. When you record your intake you are going to want to know the exact portion of each item that you consume. This will help to teach you portion control. You may realize you have actually been having three servings of cereal or pasta in what you previously assumed was a single portion.
There are so many benefits to keeping food records. If you find it is unrealistic to keep records every day, try to record two week days and one weekend day to get a general idea of how you are doing. Some great apps to use include Baritastic, My Fitness Pal, and Lose It. If you don’t like logging on your phone, keep paper records!
Erin McKenna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.