Tracking Your Calories Accurately
Tracking your food in MyFitnessPal is a great skill to develop, but it’s only accurate if it’s done correctly. Here’s some common mistakes people make to be aware of:
1. You need to track everything that goes into your mouth. This includes all drinks except water and especially alcohol, snacks, sauces, cooking oils, butter and vegetables (to begin with). These things can really add up. It can also help to slow you down before mindlessly snaking or emotionally eating.
2. You need the correct amounts. This means you will need to weigh and measure things. Over time you will be able able to eyeball and estimate things to a degree, but this does leave you open to inaccuracies which will slow or stall your progress.
3. Enter each ingredient separately. If you are making a homemade burger for example, don’t search for ‘homemade burger’ and just choose the first one. Who knows what the ingredients of that were. Instead, enter your own bread, patty, cheese, sauce etc. and then save it as a recipe or meal for if you decide to make it again in the future.
3. Sometimes entries are not accurate. This is because all entries and user generated, and sometimes users make mistakes. Make sure the calories seem right, don’t just choose the lowest option. If there, choose an option with a green tick.
4. An estimate is better than nothing. If you are eating out at a restaurant or friends place and can’t track, that’s okay. You can’t track everything. But don’t just skip it/write it off. Instead, just enter it all in as an estimate. This will help keep you accountable, and reduce the chance of falling off track.
5. Do it as you go. If you do it from memory, you are more likely to forget the amounts or forget to enter it in all together. You can also do it the night or morning before if you know what you’re having that day.
6. Don’t enter exercise and count steps. This is because the custom calorie/macro calculations have already taken this into consideration, so it can lead to over eating. This can also lead you to trying to earn back your calories through exercise, which never works and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.
7. You will get better with practice. Don’t expect to be perfect from the start. You will make mistakes and then learn from them. It also might be a bit challenging or time consuming to begin with, but with practice it will only take you a couple of minutes a day.
8. Remember that this is not for forever. This is an exercise to bring awareness to your eating and help you to understand food better. Once you have practiced it consistently for a while, it will help to change your thinking around food long term and you will be able to make better decisions naturally, without needing to track permanently.
So stick at it and keep up the good work!