There’s many reasons to track your nutrition and maintain a food log. Are you working out, but not seeing changes? Do you suspect food allergies or a gluten intolerance? Do you suspect emotional eating? Do you have health issues, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure? Whatever your reasons, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that are detrimental to your health will help you live a happier, healthier life.
Keeping track of food consumption will help you see the number of calories that you’re consuming each day, and it will also tell you if you’re eating enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which are essential to a healthy diet. Keeping track of solid fats, oils, and desserts will help you determine if you’re eating too many of these foods.
There are several websites and apps that can help you keep track. Review our quick tutorial at the end of this post to learn how you can track nutrition based on guidelines from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Poor Eating Habits Can Lead to Health Risks
According to an NCHS brief from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, January 2012, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. Also, the number of overweight children in the U.S. is growing, with 1 out of 3 children now considered overweight or obese. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, you may be considered overweight or obese. Visit the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website [ Assessing BMI ] for more information about BMI. Not maintaining a healthy weight puts you at risk for many conditions — such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Understanding Your Relationship With Food
Food is used for several reasons — not just to satisfy hunger. At times, there might be psychological reasons, instead of physical reasons that lead to over-consumption. Food is used during celebrations such as birthday parties or weddings. Relationships, locations, and moods can affect your eating and drinking habits. For example, if you’ve had a stressful day at work, you might indulge in an extra glass of wine, or if you’re at the movies you feel obligated to eat the buttered popcorn. Keeping a diary of your food will help you identify the triggers that lead to poor eating habits.
Finding Your Allergy Triggers
Keeping track of foods that trigger your allergies can be a valuable tool. Some allergies are extreme and are obvious, but others may require some further investigation. When you keep track, you can correlate symptoms such as wheezing, nasal congestion, rashes, and nausea with the foods or drinks that you consume. Of course, if you suffer from allergies, any changes in your diet should be discussed with an allergist.
Improving Body Image
Your body image is how you feel about your physical self. If there are things that you want to change about your body (i.e., you’re not within the accepted BMI recommendations), you can put together a plan in conjunction with a nutritionist or a general practitioner to reach those goals. Make sure those goals are realistic for your body type. Tracking your progress and reaching these goals can boost your self-esteem and your body image.
Combating Unfair Perceptions of Obesity
In a study conducted by the University of Alabama, the perception of people who are obese is very different from those who are thin. For example, in the study those who were overweight and resting were associated with laziness, while their thin counterparts were described as resting. For more information about the study, see Science Daily.
How Technology Can Help
There are several tools that you can use to track exercise, weight, and nutrition. At LightArrow, we’ve created LifeTopix, which enables you to track everything in your life — all in one place. It is very flexible — allowing you to build nutrition tracking that’s tailored to your specific needs. Take a look at the following tutorial to learn more.