If you missed the first post about my nifty little fitness gadget, you can read it here. Today I’m going to tell you what I learned about my eating.
It had been a while since I tracked my eating so I found it rather illuminating. I was pretty consistent in recording everything I ate for the period from June 8, when I first started wearing the MyTrak, through August 14, the day before I left for our college road trip. But, and this is a very big but, there were a handful of days that I did not keep track. My reasoning (or excuse, if you prefer) was that I was eating out on each of those days and it was hard to guess at the nutritional value of the foods. But, along with this social eating often came small, or sometimes BIG, binges that probably resulted in part from my typical issues with eating out but also in part due to the momentary freedom from tracking.
So the first thing I can tell you that I learned: when I don’t track, I’m more likely to go off plan or overeat. Hello! Yes, there is a clear correlation between not tracking what I ate and number of calories ingested! So, if you read far enough in this post to get to my caloric averages, please keep in mind that they are rather skewed in a positive direction because they don’t include the few binge days.
Another thing I learned is that I ingest entirely too much sodium despite not adding salt to foods I eat. A lot of it comes from cheese. A good amount comes from the processed food items I regularly eat, like black bean burgers. Fortunately, my blood pressure is fine, so, while I’d still like to lower my sodium intake, I’m not too worried about it.
Which I can’t say about my saturated fat intake. I did not pay much attention to this when I was first analyzing the MyTrak information. But after my doctor asked me to lower this because of my cholesterol, I realized that while the sat fat number was not horrible, it was indeed above what is recommended for someone with heart disease risk. Since then, I’ve definitely improved in this area, but it’s been tough and I need to make even more progress.
I also found that tracking made me much more aware of the actual calorie count of foods I was eating. And at the end of the day when I was sitting in front of the TV and thinking about snacking, it was great to be able to pull up my numbers for the day to see if I had any wiggle room or to find a deterrent to just one more piece of cheese. Although, as I write this, it does occur to me that I should be eating if I’m hungry and NOT eating if I’m not hungry – rather than playing with the math. (Such a simple concept I have yet to master.) I also sometimes was deterred from further late night snacking because I did not want to get up and add the food to the tracker! Love that little bonus.
When you see my stats, it might help to know a bit about my summer eating, because if I was reporting for the winter, my numbers would be very different. I ate a lot of fruit. I mean… a lot! So keep that in mind with my high fiber intake. Also, it might surprise you to know that I do, in theory, loosely follow what many would consider to be a low-carb eating plan, but what I consider to be a “good” carb eating plan. Most of my carbs come from beans, veggies and fruits. (So this number was also higher thanks to my little berry obsession and would be lower at a different time of year.) Typically I have a serving of whole grains a day. And please don’t forget, since I am keeping it honest with myself and with you, that the numbers below are for about two months but DO NOT include a handful of days in which I absolutely, positively “cheated.” Sometimes a little, but sometimes a whole heck of a lot. So the calories would be higher. Not sure how much higher because, oh yeah, I didn’t track them!
As for the actual numbers, see for yourself:
- Average daily calories: 1470
- Highest daily caloric intake: 1730
- Lowest daily caloric intake: 1103
- Average percentage of calories from protein: 22.6
- Highest daily percentage of calories from protein: 30
- Lowest daily percentage of calories from protein: 17
- Average percentage of calories from carbs: 61
- Highest daily percentage of calories from carbs: 63
- Lowest daily percentage of calories from carbs: 38
- Average daily grams of fiber: 63
- Highest daily fiber intake: 85
- Lowest daily fiber intake: 43
Except for my high sodium, which is bad, and my high fiber, which is good, my numbers are in line with most recommendations. Now that berry season is over and I’m (still) struggling a bit to get back on track after my road trip, my numbers would show less fiber and carbs and more protein.
I’d like to gradually adjust my daily caloric intake higher, if possible. Which I’m hoping it will be if I, ahem, cut out the occasional bingeing. I’m not sure if my metabolism will allow it, but if so, I’d sure like the freedom to eat more calories each day! And that mathematical theory of calories in vs. calories out suggests I should be able to do so.
As to whether or not I’m still tracking. Not. I just never got back into the habit after our trip. Honestly, it is a bit of a hassle. Not only to go to the computer and input the information, but to measure foods. And the biggest hassle is calculating the nutritional value for recipes that I make that don’t have that math already computed for me. If not for that, I’d probably be much more inclined to keep up with the tracking.
I do have one other thought about the whole food tracking concept. I have read, time and again, that “they” say it works. So that is a positive. But there is also a part of me that thinks that in my quest for “normal,” tracking food is one more way I am overly focused on it and maybe it would be nice to let that focus go. Just thinking.
So, there you have it.
Do you track what you eat? Have you learned anything interesting by doing so?
Many thanks to Rita and Fitblogger for having such a great giveaway challenge:)