Why I kept a Food Log for a week…

Earlier this month I was complaining to my mom that I “felt fat”.

I feel like every woman has been there before. Now I don’t mean to offend anyone when I say “fat”, but there is a certain weight/body type that I feel my most comfortable. I know I’ll never be stick thin or model skinny, and I’m okay with that! However I can tell when I am more bloated or fluffy than usual, and it doesn’t feel good; I don’t feel like myself. When telling my mom that evening that “I felt fat”, she assured me that I was being silly, but she also suggested maybe watching my sodium…saying I might be consuming too much salt in my diet. Thus causing me to retain water and look/feel bloated. I didn’t think I was, but when I started recalling everything I had eaten the past few days, I had either added a lot of salty seasonings to my food, or it was naturally high in sodium.

So it got me thinking; How well do I pay attention to the food I’m eating everyday? Am I aware of the amounts I’m consuming? Do I have a balanced calorie intake vs. calorie expenditure?

I eat rather healthy but am I as educated about the food nutrients, portions, and calories as I like to think I am???

I decided to become more aware of my eating habits by logging everything I consumed in a journal from Monday the 4th through Monday the 11th. That way it will give me an idea of what a typical work week of eating looks like as well as a typical weekend.

My Rules:

  • No cheating myself. All food & drink are to be recorded in the correct amounts for this log to be helpful. This is not a competition, it’s purely just to become knowledgeable about my consumption.
  • Do not modify my “regular” diet. If I wanted a piece of chocolate then I would eat the chocolate just how I would any other week. Just because I’m documenting my diet, doesn’t mean I should be on my “best behavior”.
  • Do not let my diet define my self-worth. Just because some days won’t be as healthy as others, does not mean I should punish myself or beat myself up over it. Balance is key.
  • And last but not least, having no “off limit” foods. That mindset can be a slippery slope and I want to have a healthy relationship with nutrition.

Below you will see the logs I kept each day of the week. I did not break them down into breakfast, lunch and dinner because I don’t always eat in the form of meals; I may have a full sit down meal or I might just snack on my food throughout the day. It just depends! Especially on the weekends, my eating patterns can be very random depending on how busy I am. So the list of food is in the order of when I ate it, but not necessarily as a meal.

Things to keep in mind:

Food reporting is notoriously unreliable and it should be known that the calories reported in these logs are not exact. I did not measure or weigh EVERY serving of food consumed so some of these calorie amounts are estimated. In calorie tracking, it is very easy to under-report so I purposely chose to overestimate my portions sizes during this food log.

Most of my food is prepared at home so that makes it easier to track, especially when it came to portions. I did not write down each portion size on the log, but I did record the calories accordingly. When I ate out at a restaurant I would simply go to the restaurants website and lookup their nutrition information. Many chain restaurants have their nutrition information available of food tracking apps as well. I did not record any of my water intake so the only drinks you will see recorded will be otherwise (juice/alcohol).

My energy expenditure is also not exact. I based my caloric expenditure on what my Fitbit reported at the end of each day however that is an estimate as well and not 100% factual. W-ith that being said, the purpose of this Food Log was to get an IDEA of my nutrition. I logged everything in a notebook by hand but transferred the logs to a typed document for you to read easier 🙂

Outcomes:

So first impressions, WOW I eat a lot of chocolate. Second, I’m not mad about it.

After reviewing my log I found it interesting that unlike most, I tend to consume less on the weekends and more during the work-week. I’ve realized I eat more out of boredom and stress than I do hunger. Majority of my work day is sitting at my desk, wanting to snack while I work. SUCH a bad habit but I’m working on it now. However, during my weekends, I’m usually so active and busy I don’t think about food as much. During the weekends some people rack up their calories simply from alcohol (which is easy to do) but when I go out, I usually have 1-2 Vodka water’s w/ lime which is a lighter alcoholic drink option if you’re trying to watch your weight.

But damn, keeping a food log REALLY opened my eyes to the value of the food I was eating.

By value, I mean caloric value. I have always been aware of how many calories are in my Rx protein bar because it was clearly written on the label for me. But I did not realize how LOW in calories some vegetables and berries can be! For example, 1 Raspberry is 1 calorie. LOL that’s nothing. They can fill my stomach up but will not keep me satisfied for long.

Aside from being more informed of nutrients and caloric content of food, I realized that most of the highest calorie foods I was eating was from sauces/condiments like Ranch & Peanut Butter. That’s easily adding another 150-200 calories to a meal. So if you are trying to slim down, it really helps to limit the portions of condiments or substituting them for lighter alternatives. You don’t even want to know how many calories are in a packet of beloved Chick Fil A sauce… (sobs)

My weight naturally fluctuates about 2-3 lbs constantly. From day to day or it could even fluctuate that much in 1 single day. Many factors cause weight fluctuation (water retention/menstrual cycle/stress/cheat meal) but I did notice while keeping a food log, my weight stayed more steady, and at the end of my week of logging I was actually down 2 lbs. Aaaaand less bloat! Yee! But here’s why…

If I’m being honest, I couldn’t help but eat less while logging my foods… But probably not for the reason you’re thinking. It was because I was getting lazy. Hear me out. In the back of my mind, I knew if I ate something, I would have to look it up and write it down and it would discourage me from even wanting to snack. I was literally like nah, it’s not worth having to do all that work. Haha laziness ironically saved your girl some extra calories for once!

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this little experiment! It opened my eyes to my eating habits and made me feel more self aware. I think there are so many pros to keeping a Food Log. Being self aware is beneficial in all ways, and knowing what you are putting in your body (food, drink, drugs) should be included.

I also think it can become an obsessive habit, especially for people with a history of Eating Disorders. It could trigger those bad habits of Control and Restriction so I wouldn’t recommend it for everybody. I do think many people could benefit from this experiment and maybe even extend this log to a month or so to really see how much your eating habits can differ and learn how it affects your body. You can also use a Food Log as a way to see if you have any dietary intolerance’s or allergies. Personally, I love trail mix!!! But I noticed when I eat too much, my stomach cramps up almost immediately and I get all bloated. Probably due to the high fiber content, high sodium, and added sugars from the dried fruit.

Fun fact: Companies won’t be required to list the amount of added sugars on food labels until the year 2020, & it can be hard to tell the difference between sugars that come from dried fruit and sugars that have been added. And unless you are an expert at reading nutrition labels, those sugars can sneak up on you. But your body is wise and can tell the difference between naturally occurring sugars (in fruit) and processed sugars that have been added for taste. And there is a difference in how your body processes those sugars.

But since food logging, I now avoid eating trail mix as often or I make sure it’s in small quantities.

So essentially, if your feeling like you have poor eating habits, have no clue how many calories you eat daily, or if you are concerned you’re not eating enough. I really recommend tracking your food for a week. I just used Nutritionix.com (which has an app as well). And I have a coworker who likes using MyFitnessPal. Both of those apps make it really easy for you to look up food and track cals.

Like I mentioned earlier, food tracking is known for being unreliable due to misreporting. So just be cautious in knowing your results will not be completely accurate. And obviously being active makes a difference too. So when looking at your stats remember to factor in your Caloric Expenditure as well. I find nutrition, health, and exercise SO interesting!!! So if you guys enjoy these kind of blogs too let me know, I’d love to do more!

That’s all the tea for today. I hope you have a wonderful day and feed yo body some goodness!

Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

XOXO MrsFitz

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Author: sarahfitzgerald42

Hello there! My name is Sarah and I created this blog 2 years ago in hopes to feed my creative side and explore my city. During the past couple years of creating content and stepping out of my comfort zone, I feel like I've become more myself than ever before. If you stumbled upon this page by accident or intentional, I hope you stick around! Xoxo Mrs. Fitz

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