My Thoughts on Food Tracking
I think nutrition is fascinating.
I always like learning new research and finding new foods to try. One thing that excited me about this fitness challenge is that there was a nutritional component involved. It wasn’t just working out and eating what I had been eating, it encompassed both of those things and how they work in tandem.
A short background on why and how I’m tracking my meals:
In order for us to receive our customized nutrition plans, we first had to complete a BioSignature Modulation assessment. The fat levels on twelve sites on the body were measured and where your body holds more fat is used as an indicator of possible hormonal imbalances in the body. Certain imbalances can indicate which types of foods are most appropriate for your body, helping you develop a meal plan that is optimized to your specific needs.
I love science and I love trying new things, so this sounded right up my alley. Plus, someone else did the work for me and all I had to do was follow along. 🙂
Our meal plans included an ideal amount of macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) and calories to strive for during each day. In addition, there was a further breakdown of those numbers into the number of meals/snacks we planned to eat throughout the day.
All of this is logged in the My Fitness Pal app, which is actually super fun to use.
Now, here comes my problem.
As someone who has suffered with disordered eating in the past, this can be a slippery slope. The perfectionist in me also wants to do everything right and hit my numbers as exactly as I can. I want to be the A student. I want to win (keep in mind there’s no winning in this challenge — I’m just absurd).
I knew this would be a potential problem going into the challenge, but I also knew that it has been at least five years since the last time I let that behavior take over my life. Today I have a sturdy foundation, I have the power of self-awareness, and I have this blog where I can write posts like this and lay it all out there to prevent me from regressing to old behaviors.
I took on this challenge because I wanted a goal to work towards and I truly wanted to challenge where I was in my recovery.
For me, there’s a difference between overcoming something and never facing it again vs. overcoming something and healing enough to face it head on. I can’t truly know how much I’ve grown unless I’m faced with the same problem and see how I react.
Let’s take a minute to be smart about this, however. I’m applying this to behaviors and thought patterns that I have dealt with in the past, not specific substances. I don’t tell myself “I’m going to drink and do some heroin today to see if I’m still addicted. MAYBE I’VE BEATEN IT!” The ingestion of those substances elicits a biological response that no amount of therapy or 12-step meetings is going to be able to reverse. My quest for personal growth is focused more on behavioral patterns that have been detrimental to me and prevented me from finding true wellness with myself.
I’m also not advocating that everyone who has had an eating disorder tempt fate and do something with such an emphasis on control — one of the underlying components of such disorders (including addiction). Everyone one is different and you need to figure out what works for YOU.
Back to food tracking.
For most people, it’s not a huge deal. For me, it can become obsessive. Thankfully, the only obsessing I’ve been doing has been about the fact that I want to eat MORE food. It’s not about how I can restrict myself or how I should stay away from anything sweet — I just like to eat. HA.
It’s been a great relief to think about using food as a way to fuel my body and not a way to punish or reward it. Now, when I ask myself if should have a cookie, it’s because I’m not sure it’s worth it to derail the progress I’ve been making, not because I think sugar will turn me obese, make me a horrible person, and no one will ever love me (actual old thinking patterns). It’s more of a cost benefit analysis and it’s a significantly different feeling than it was in the past.
I’m staying vigilant throughout the next couple weeks and know what to do if any of those old thought patterns start to creep up. The more often they do and the more opportunities I’m given to correct the thought, the less likely I’ll be to face the same problem in the future, which is an incredible outcome of this challenge that I didn’t even anticipate.
I’m glad that I decided to face discomfort head on in order to see if the work I’ve put in has paid off. Just for today, I know it has.