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The right (and wrong) way to use a diet tracker

Is tracking your food and calories (or WW points) essential  to losing or maintaining your weight?  Or is it a toxic dieter’s mindset?

Neither.

Food and activity trackers can be useful tools when they are used to gather information.  You can learn a lot about how different foods and portion sizes compare in terms of how many calories they provide and how much they fill you up.  You can learn how your body feels after a 400 calorie breakfast instead of a 200 calorie breakfast, or how it feels to eat 100 calories worth of roasted potatoes vs 100 calories worth of potato chips.

You can identify which foods (or hours of the day) are contributing excess calories that keep you from weighing less. You can experience how much you need to move around in order to hit 10,000 steps a day, or get a reality check on how often you’re getting 30 minutes of exercise. 

All of this can be useful and empowering information.  

But if you’ve been weighing, measuring, logging, and tracking every bite and step for more than a few weeks, you’re probably not gathering much new information. Instead of being your tutor, your tracker can easily become the judge, jury, and executioner.  

  • Instead of considering your hunger level, you ask your tracker how many more calories you’re allowed to eat.  Hit your limit? Then no more food for you.  (Or, worse: off to the gym to burn some calories so you can eat more.)
  • Instead of choosing foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good, you use your tracker to choose the one that’s lowest in calories. 
  • Instead of developing your self-awareness and self-control, you’re outsourcing both of these to a device.

That’s the opposite of empowering. 

We hear from so many people who are SO sick of tracking but terrified to stop. They’re afraid that, without their tracker to them when to stop eating, they’ll never stop.

But listen: If you have the discipline to stop eating when your tracker tells you to, you also have the ability to stop eating when your stomach (or brain) lets you know that you’ve had enough. You can reclaim the authority that you’ve given to your tracker.  And there’s nothing more freeing than realizing that you can trust yourself to know (and do) what’s in your best interests.

Not sure how to start?

The free 7-Day Mindset Reset program is a great way to begin exploring this territory.

Thoughts? Questions? Arguments? Post them in the comments below. 

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