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Going "off track"

Posted: May 16, 2013



It's a phrase I hear on an almost daily basis - “I've gone off track”. Usually, the client is referring to one ore more of the following situations:

  1. They have stopped recording or are less complete in their food tracking.
  2. They have consumed more calories than usual.
  3. They have consumed unhealthy foods.

Well I'm here to tell you that by doing one or more of the above does not mean that you've gone off track as these experiences are part of the journey. 

Allow me to explain.

Stopping recording – it is unrealistic to expect that you will record completely one hundred per cent of the time. While you want to record as accurately and as often as you can, undoubtedly there will be times when you can't. For example, let's say you are on vacation in Thailand and are served a local delicacy by someone who does not speak English. Knowing the amount and caloric content may be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  You can at the very least record the name of the dish (or failing that, its ingredients) and then guess at the amounts and calories. You won't be accurate, but at least you’re recording something. Even simply writing “lunch at 1PM” is better than nothing.  If you have stopped recording completely, don't worry about the day(s) you have missed. Simply start back as soon as possible.

Consuming more calories that usual – there are times when consuming more calories is the norm and worthwhile. Examples include Holidays and special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. Of course, if several of these events occur over a short period of time you may not lose weight. Adjusting your expectations during those times, e.g. maintaining or gaining only a pound or two is recommended as by doing so you'll be less strict, reducing the likelihood of depriving yourself (imagine a birthday without cake!). You can help minimize the number of excess calories by ensuring to record and by staying organized with your eating prior to the event i.e. eating every two to three hours, including protein at all meals and snacks.

Consuming unhealthy foods – cake, chips, ice-cream and chicken wings are part of an overall healthy eating pattern as these foods can provide great joy and satisfaction. The trick is to have those types of foods as infrequently as possible and in the smallest possible serving needed to feel satisfied. I am unable to give you specific frequency or serving size amounts as it will vary from person to person. Some may be perfectly content only having chips once a month. For others, once a week may be needed. Others still may be content to never have them.

Mark McGill, RD