What MyFitnessPal Taught Me About My Food Habits
About a month or so ago, I started keeping a food diary on the MyFitnessPal app. I had been resistant to that in the past for a number of reasons:
I’m resistant to calorie-counting for the sake of keeping score about my meals.
I cook at home a lot, so the food I eat tends towards a number of ingredients, which means a lot of manually adding entire recipes before even being able to track a meal.
I didn’t trust my own motivation to stay aligned with Making Healthy Decisions vs. Obsessing Over Numbers and Pounds, and I didn’t want to go there.
I don’t like assigning the value judgment of “good” or “bad” to food, and I was afraid I’d get to that if I started obsessively tracking everything.
But the biggest turn off for me was what’s actually pimped as a plus, a feature, a benefit in the name of convenience: it is unbelievably easy to add meals by scanning bar codes of your food, or to search for food items on restaurant menu like Red Lobster, Chipotle, and Starbucks.
[SO MUCH OF] OUR FOOD DOES NOT NEED BAR CODES.
I’m not saying never eat a packaged item (I do all the time — peanut butter, cream cheese, canned beans, tuna, bread, and more!), but I also do a LOT of home cooking, a lot of shopping at the farmers’ market, and a lot of shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. Those items either don’t have bar codes, or they’re not in that database (maybe I should be adding them?).
Adding these individual ingredients and foods can be tedious, and if I’m guessing based on a from-scratch recipe, is it even accurate?
Anyway, #endrant, mostly, because:
I decided to get over it, get over myself, and spend a month or so tracking my food so I could play detective, spot unconscious habits, and see where I could make small changes.
Around the same time I decided to actually track things, I decided I was going to do so through the lens of observing the proportions of macronutrients in my diet.
(Macronutrients: protein, fat, & carbohydrates.)
I’ve got a cute little belly around my mid-section (which is fine with me for now, but I realize might have health implications later on, especially based on family history), so I researched “macros for fat loss” and settled on observing my natural flow of things as it compared to the recommended amounts with that goal in mind.
There’s a lot more I could do to get a truly personalized number here (and I may work myself there), but here’s what I found in my research: a good starting point for macros with the goal of fat loss is a recommended ratio of 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat.
As an omnivore (I get my protein from both plants and animals), the absolute biggest challenge I’ve faced is eating THAT MUCH PROTEIN without also eating “too much” fat.
But here’s the thing about that.
I realized I don’t fucking care.
I mean, I do and I don’t. The fats I’m eating are in avocados, olive oils, nuts, nut butters, salmon, and eggs. I am not about to quit eating these natural, healthy, delicious sources of vitamins, protein, omega-3’s, etc., just because somewhere it says I shouldn’t have more than x-amount of fat per day.
Plus, if I were truly to manage my carbs, I’d have to cut BACK on the amount of fruits and vegetables I was eating, and like, WHAT? No.
So, maybe macros as a weight management approach isn’t for me, because I’m not willing to cut out apples and avocados in the name of hitting certain targets.
I am, on the other hand, still striving to increase healthy proteins so I do continue to track my food from the standpoint of observation and, making changes in what I believe is the most lasting and sustainable way: step-by-step and one thing at a time.
Note: This is a post about my personal experience and experimenting with a certain type of dietary theory/approach to food. While I do coach on nutrition and habit-change, this post is meant to share an experience, rather than endorse or refute any specific dietary theory.