On Education On Goals

Lessons I’ve Learned From Tracking My Diet

A healthy diet is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, in fact apparently it is MORE important than exercise when it comes to weight loss/management. Which makes sense if you think about it, which I rarely did. I enjoy eating. I’m a fan of food, which is probably because I’m an emotional eater. To me, the term “comfort food” is anything junk that I’m eating at the time, so when I decided to focus on becoming healthier and achieving a healthier weight/BMI I knew I needed to focus on the two things that would get me there, exercise AND diet. 

I’m not a fan of ‘dieting’ per se. The idea of a preplanned meal program seems difficult for me, they seem to lack variety and cultural influences. It also, at least to me, feels incredibly restrictive and therefore somewhat impossible to maintain in the long term, which is important. Losing weight is awesome and very difficult (I lost 50lbs in 8 months in my 20s to fight) but KEEPING that weight off is equally important and just as difficult (I eventually gained a majority of that weight back). So my criteria for my weight loss journey had to be the following:

  1. Maintainable 
  2. Works 

Pretty simple, right? But then again, losing weight is simple too. Put in less than what you take out and you’ll start losing weight. Ie. Eat less than what you burn off. 

So I started to track everything I ate in an app. A method my old boxing coach recommended years ago as well, sans the app part. Simply pay attention to what you’re eating. 

So far These are the lessons I’ve learned from doing so. 

  1. I eat ate a lot of random things

As I started to record my food, I came to the realization that I have a habit of stuffing my face, or rather, I would just eat things just because. I never really noticed it until I sat down the night after I started tracking and saw how many things I ate. I’d eat a handful of one thing or another at random times, with very little regard for what it actually was!

  1. I eat ate for no reason

Tracking my food is a huge eye opener because as I reviewed what I ate I couldn’t think if I was actually hungry when I was eating or if I was just eating because I was bored or the food was there. I look back on my first days and realized at least a quarter of the food I was consuming had no reason to it. It wasn’t meal time, I don’t even think I was truly hungry, yet there it was in black and white handfuls of snacks that I ate for what seemed to be no reason. Now I’m sure there was a reason at least some of the time, some of it was probably emotional. I was stressed or annoyed or frustrated and the only way I dealt with it was by putting something tasty in my mouth. Not the greatest reason to eat and confirmed what I already sort-of knew. That I was an emotional eater. 

I often think of “emotional eater” as someone who is upset and eating a bucket of chicken, but because I’m not sitting in a room crying over fried goodness, I thought I wasn’t too bad. But I was, because it’s the same thing whether I salted fries with my tears or I felt frustrated and ate a fist full of chips. 

  1. I savor food more

The App I use calculated the amount of calories I should be eating should I want to see a loss in weight. This gives me a budget that I need to stay within and because of this I have a limit on what I can eat outside of me ‘feeling’ like I’ve had enough. Because I have this limit I noticed that I savor my food more. When I eat I enjoy the food that I am tasting, with the knowledge that I won’t be having 2nds, 3rds or 4ths (which was a real option before).

“Abundance has created a lack of appreciation in me when it comes to food.

I’ve come to the realization that abundance has created a lack of appreciation in me when it comes to food. Because I can always have MORE, rather than appreciating what I am having, I speed through it. It seems almost contradictory but it’s true. Now that I know I’m only having one chocolate bar or one bowl of chips as treats, they become that… a treat that I appreciate much more now, that I savor and take the time to enjoy. 

  1. I understand fruit and vegetables more

Counting calories gives you a better perspective of why good food is good food. I never really thought about it. In my mind food was meant to make you full and make you feel good. I never really considered how ‘bad’ junk food was. We heard about it alot, but I never really looked into it nor did I want to. Junk food often filled a void and made me feel better (emotionally) and I don’t think I was ready to learn how bad it was to me physically. 

As I counted calories, I became hungry MORE because I was eating junk that didn’t fill me and started looking at fruits and veg. They fill you up, taste great and are super low in calories. 8 strawberries is almost the same amount of food as ½ a chocolate bar and is ⅓ of the calories and has much more nutrients and vitamins. They also taste better and make you feel much better before, during and AFTER eating (unlike the chocolate bar). 

Yes I know many people already know this, and it’s almost silly how I’m sort of just discovering all this now, but I am. I wasn’t ready for this information before. Sometimes, despite having the knowledge, you don’t know something until you’re ready to accept it. 

  1. I have to break the habit of putting food in my mouth. 

It’s become a habit, it seems. As one of my neighbours joked about themselves saying, “I’m on a seafood diet, I see food, I eat it” It’s become automatic, especially with my son. He’d leave half a cookie, and I’d eat it, spoonful of peanut butter? Gone. Pizza crust? Yes please. I’ve become the household racoon without realizing it, and that obviously contributes to what I’m putting into my body. 

I’ve become the household racoon

Growing up with immigrant parents, we learned to ‘not waste food’, which makes sense but I also believe there’s a limit to that and that limit is when that becomes unhealthy. I was eating my full (or more) serving of food PLUS whatever was left over because of….guilt? Because it was ingrained in me? Whatever the reason, it was habitual and I had to go out of my way to break it which was not that difficult once I realized what I was doing. 

**Note: Other ways to not ‘waste’ food other than just eating everything you see:

  1. Don’t make as much
  2. Share more (order 1 plate share with someone)
  3. Take less on your plate, with the knowledge that you’ll be eating your kids scraps (lol 🙁 )

I tracked my caloric intake when I lost weight for boxing all those years ago, but I didn’t take the time to look into my previous habits and focused only on achieving my goal. Because of this I never really learned anything about my eating habits at the time, nor do I think I was ready. Now, it seems that I am and so I’m taking advantage of the situation and trying to learn every thing I can as I experience it. 

I hope that helps you in some way!

– Kenners!

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