Tracking your calories can help you identify your eating patterns and identify the patterns you wish to modify.
TRACKING what you eat can give you an approximate baseline to work from and compare to when you're trying to establish a healthy balanced diet.
Is tracking precise?
YES, THERE CAN BE A LACK OF PRECISION. Have you ever used a calorie counter and there are countless different eggs to choose from - to help this use the bar code to check in the food and check the portion sizes too.
Tracking certainly isn’t for everyone. I track now and again but not all the time - but the historic tracking I do helps to inform future decisions to maintain a balance of nutrient dense foods and ‘not so’ nutrient dense foods!
At the end of the day, choose whole, nutrient dense foods that will keep you full and energised.
My biggest tip is the PLAN your food, you can plan in the takeaway, the nights out, the high calorie dinners AS THESE ARE PART OF LIFE - you want to be able to enjoy these, so plan out your meals so there is a calorie balance - actually an energy balance (calorie in vs calories out through movement and exercise) across the week.
I find that calorie counting using a tracker such as My Fitness Pal can educate about the calorie density of foods and of our macro nutrient breakdown. Once you have tracked, you will become more aware and be able to make balanced decisions to include the higher calorific meals into your week. How long that is depend on your needs - even three days of tracking your food is going to give you a greater insight than not doing it all.
However, you have to be careful with this so you do not develop an unbalanced preoccupation with food.
For some, counting calories (or any other eating plan that requires strict adherence) can lead to an obsession with food, which can result in disordered eating habits and increase anxiety and depression - so if you feel tracking food may cause an unbalance- then don’t put yourself in this vulnerable position.
Another School of Thought...
Some prefer not to track as it could become an unhealthy mindset or see it as a tireless task.
Some love the freedom of intuitive eating. It helps you become aware of how you're feeling and puts you in tune with your body cues. Using portion sizes can help and to eat as much healthy, whole, and colorful foods as I can.
Have a go at using the palm for portion sizes. Using hands to measure portions is a good approach for most who don’t need specific amounts of foods or macronutrients.
A serving of protein = 1 palm
A serving of vegetables = 1 fist
A serving of carbs = 1 cupped hand
A serving of fats = 1 thumb
Being more in tune with your body helps with food, workouts, and overall health in general.
Some don't like numbers as goals. May do not like to have goals associated with numbers. No number on the scale or size of clothing... Non numerical goals can work too!