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My thoughts on why some struggle with tracking

Posted: May 14, 2013

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My thoughts on why some struggle with tracking

When you keep a food log you double your chances of weight loss and will, on average, decrease your caloric intake by just under 400 calories per day. While both of those facts should in theory be enough motivation for people to keep a diary, many clients I see struggle with consistently keeping a food journal. In practice, keeping a food diary is simple and shouldn’t take more than about five minutes per day (it will probably take longer at the beginning as one is learning the ropes, but this is normal). 

Some may have difficulty because tracking is a rather uneventful activity that may not offer an immediate reward. Here’s what I mean: after exercise class (which takes far more effort and time compared to tracking), you feel good.  You’re sweating, out of breath and feel like you accomplished something – which of course, you did. You have an endorphin rush and feel like you’re on top of the world.  You probably don’t get this by keeping a food journal.

After seeing many clients struggle with tracking, here are some suggestions on how to make it more sustainable and interesting:

  1. Record at least something every day (even if it’s a guess at the amount, calories or contains incomplete information).  This will help you both build and then sustain the habit.
  2. Change the way you track. Record in advance (e.g. the night before), buy a new food diary or use an online tracking site or smart phone app.
  3. If you track online or via an app, trial a different site/app.  You may find that a different interface and user options work better for you.  Some of the best sites: myfitnesspal, loseit, mynetdiary, sparkpeople. 
  4. Set goals and monitor them through tracking.  For example, examine your liquid calorie intake and see if you can reduce, or set a time goal i.e. complete recording for two weeks straight. 

It’s important to note that in order for something to become a habit it must be consistently practiced for up to a year and a half. 

If you struggle with tracking and wish to comment, email me at mmcgill@bmimedical.ca

Mark McGill, RD