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Do you keep track of what you eat?
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why or why not? Curious.

After about three years (I'm not exaggerating) of writing down what I eat, last week, I was sick of it and just stopped. It becomes an obsessive thing for me and I was tired of it. My leap of faith for the week was "I am going to eat whatever I want, not write it down, not add up calories, and see how it affects my mind, my mood, my training, and my weight."

Results: I ate mostly healthy stuff, with dessert every day (ha!), didn't obsess as much as normal, enjoyed the freedom of not writing stuff down, had some really good workouts and some really awful ones (in other words: a normal week), and my weight stayed the same. In other words, I guess I learned that I can "intuitively eat" (eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, eat whatever you're craving - which might be a cookie or might be an apple) and my weight stays the same.

On Sunday I kind of freaked out, because writing down what I eat is in some way a safety blanket for me... it keeps me eating healthy stuff, it is a way to make sure I eat enough. I guess I am trying to decide if I want to keep writing stuff down, or break the habit/compulsion of it for good... and am curious what others do, and why.

spill!

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I just started cuz coach said to hah. Really, I need to lose some weight and this way I can figure out what's working, what's not, and have some input from others on how to make my diet better (more balanced/healthy). I think when I am trying to lose weight, like you I might not eat enough either so that's another reason for logging.

As for you, I think it's bad news because you are obsessive haha! But really, I think until you have moved past your ways of the past, maybe it is good for you to track so you don't fall back into unhealthy eating habits. I know you didn't ask my opinion, but you got it anyways :P


______________________________________
I know I'm promiscuous, but in a classy way
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I never wrote what I ate until I turned 39 years old and realized I couldn't eat whatever I wanted without effecting my weight. I'm sure I could have eaten better when I was younger, as far as it helping my athletic performance, but I was just training so much I just needed calories. I tried to live that way even after retirement from real competitive swimming, and got away with it for 15 years. When I decided I needed to see if I could eat healthier, I started recording it in fitday, and it was great. I did it for many months and I began to eat much better just seeing the bad stuff add up. I don't record anymore, because I know what I have to do. That doesn't mean I do well all year round, but I can generally get myself on track pretty easily. I'm usually more concerned now with eating well right after workouts, and making sure I have what I need to recover well, and I don't get in a tizzy if I have a cookie after lunch.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I write down what I eat for a couple days at a time if my weight drops or I seem to be eating really poorly and am low on energy. Sometimes I analyze it and sometimes it just helps me to make sure I am eating a little better. I would say I maybe do it for a couple days every 2-3 months.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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Every day. Not too obsessive about it. Just at the end of the day I put it in my training log with my workouts, etc. I like to see how much I'm eating, what I'm eating, what % are carbs, etc. But I am a data person, so I think that's what drives it.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I don't track what I eat by writing down at the end of the day but rather I pretty much know in the morning each day (or night before) what I am going to eat and when for the following day, probably even more OCD and sometimes leads to being too disciplined by thinking maybe I will not go out to eat for lunch or dinner because I already planned out what I was going to eat.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I've been logging both calories in and out (via Bodybugg) for the past 95 weeks. It's part of my job as a trainer and knowing my calories burned-rate is very helpful to follow as my triathlon training progresses.

DFL > DNF > DNS
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I don't , but I would if I could find a program to use that wasn't as agonizingly slow as Fitday. I guess if you don't eat that much packaged food everything has to be entered individually, and eventually you'd store up a log of your usual stuff. I never had the patience.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I've tried but I just can't be bothered. Luckily weight's not really an issue for me.

TC - from what you've posted previously in the forum about eating issues, I think not tracking what you eat is a very positive step for you. You eat a healthy balanced diet and are very active, paying attention to how you feel rather than tracking calories definitely seems like the smart thing to do.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [WeRide] [ In reply to ]
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WeRide - I don't use any programs or anything like that; I just have a notebook :-) very quick.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I used to be really obsessive about tracking everything. To the point where as soon as I ate something I'd record it in Calorie King. It was great information and I learned quite a bit but I have done it for a couple months. It has been very freeing. Of course, that doesn't mean my weight is where I want it to be but this fall has been about resting and recovering from a couple years of intensive endurance training. I'm ramping back up so I'll be working on my diet and watching my food intake so I'll start recording again after Thanksgiving.

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Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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TC-I agree with Alibabawa that discontinuing the tracking of your food intake may be good for you. I have read your extensive eating disorder history. So long as your weight stays in a healthy range and you are eating a well balanced diet and exercising, it seems like writing down food may just be a way to hold onto control over food and it may be one of the last ways that you are doing so. It may only seem this way though. Or maybe you are scared that if you don't write it down you will stop taking care of yourself? I speak from experience, so don't be offended if this isn't the case. I struggled with anorexia when I was 13-14 and to a lesser extent when I was 20 and still have trouble with eating/weight issues at times.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [njtrigirl] [ In reply to ]
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as to the control part of it - yes it is a way to feel some control that I dislike letting go of.

In Reply To:
Or maybe you are scared that if you don't write it down you will stop taking care of yourself?
No, I eat plenty whether I write it down or not.

Is tricky. Something I brought up in therapy last session and will do so again in the next one.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I don't keep a training log, much less a food log.
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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Absolutely - almost every single day. When I go off this for even a week I gain at least 3lbs.

It scares me. 16 years ago I began my first year of gain 100lbs in 3 years. I lost that weight with Weight Watchers 5 years ago ... about 10lbs has crept back on and I'm fighting like hell to get rid of it.

I use www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate - I pay for the gold membership, it's cheap and it lets me track what I eat.

I understand what you're saying re: the mental freedom and I wish that I was one of those people who could be free from this, but I'm not and I accept that. I think I feel more relaxed when I journal my food ... but that's what works for ME and where I am at in life.

Tri Hard !
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [njtrigirl] [ In reply to ]
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... the downside of keeping track, is sometimes it fuels panic. I will forever freak out if I eat more than 3000 calories a day, even if I know I need that much. When I was gaining a couple years ago I had to eat at least 3000 calories a day so there is this link in my mind "if you eat that much you WILL gain weight." The number 2800 is fine with me. The number 2900 is okay too. 3000 my head goes AAAAAAAAAAAA!

and the thing is, right now, if I gain weight it's totally FINE. Still, the "voice" is there.

If I don't write it down, I still tend to keep a running tab in my head of calories... so the number is there regardless.

sorry for more eating disordered ranting but it helps me to write it sometimes... I would give ANYTHING to be a healthy athlete without the shadows of an eating disorder.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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Don't even be an ounce of sorry. We all need support in something and I think EVERYONE is happy to give it to you for this - especially since weight is something almost all of us have an internal struggle with, even if it doesn't manifest itself into a full-blown eating disorder.


______________________________________
I know I'm promiscuous, but in a classy way
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [deee] [ In reply to ]
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It's funny, I think, that I try to second-guess my body so much. Think about it - isn't that what we're doing when we keep track of calories and stuff anyway? "I am going to do all kinds of funny math and - there - I need X calories." As opposed to "I'm hungry and I'm going to eat." Or "I am craving peanut butter, time for an apple and peanut butter." Which is what I do, then freak over the numbers. It's ridiculous. I wish I had never learned what a calorie WAS... on the upside of things, I've stopped measuring stuff, now I just estimate.

Hmmm maybe my next step would be keep the food journal but not write the calorie amounts down.

Thank you for the support - I WILL get rid of the eating disorder shadow, I will I will I will. I hate it when people tell me "you'll have a part of this in you forever" because I want to believe SO much that there is a complete recovery from it, that you can get rid of all the obsessing for good.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I think getting rid of the calorie amounts would be a big help.

For me, I can eat several donuts in the morning for breakfast at work or what probably amounts to 3000-4000 calories a day when I am training hard, but not care because I know my body needs it if I am eating by how I feel. If I started writing it down and actually seeing the calories, I know I would start to restrict it because I have done it in the past. That's why whenever I write food down I try to not even figure out the calories anymore. I just try to look for patterns like not getting enough fruits and veggies, not enough protein, whether I am eating right after workouts, getting protein and carbs together, eating too many donuts ;)
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I had to come to terms with knowing there is something I have to live with for the rest of my life that I wish I didn't. This is something that will need treatment every day. Nothing fatal or physically debilitating, just always there. There are days where I hate it, where I'm angry, but most of the time I recognize I know this is part of what make me uniquely me. I like me. So, if I like me, I have to like all of my experiences and "flaws" that make up who I am.

I don't know if you will ever get rid of your eating disorder. But, if you don't, its OK. It is what makes you who you are and you should be proud of that. You are a student, an athlete and clearly you have many people who care about you as you are.

It is OK if you aren't perfect. None of us are. But, that is what makes us who we are and that is what is great.

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Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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Just an interesting comment from my perspective. One of the best things that food logging has done for me is to make sure I get enough calories on my big training days. If I ate 6500 calories on my 7+hr training days, which is exactly what CalorieKing prescribed, I would have the most amazing long run the next day and feel fantastic. Before the logging, I always felt like the long Sunday run was a death march of torture. The main thing I use it for though is to try not to overdo the calories. I used to snack on cashews out of the giant cashew jar at night before bed...probably had 1000+ calories each time, just considering it an after dinner snack. No wonder I couldn't get to race weight! This year I used CalorieKing the whole year and had a great season staying right where I wanted to be weightwise. Now I've put on 3 lbs of fat for the winter (which is exactly what I needed to do) and I ate 1000 calories too much yesterday on Thanksgiving...worth every bite : ). I also set a PR at my local Turkey Trot and won a yummy apple pie : )).
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [Diana] [ In reply to ]
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I definitely agree with you that eating enough, particularly on long workout days, is critical for feeling good the next day. I usually do not eat enough on long days and wind up waking up hungry during the night. My roommate thinks it's hilarious when I stumble out of bed at midnight to cook french toast or make a pbj etc.

Am grateful for all the responses. Is interesting to read the differences in perspective from those of us in the range of disordered eating/eating disorder to you lucky people free from it.

I am going to challenge myself to stop adding up calories. I have a [mental] list of the "stupid anorexic things I do" and need to start getting rid of those symptoms one by one. Keeping track of what I eat and adding up calories is certainly on that list.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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On a general level, i think that healthy athletes who are very serious about their training naturally know how to regulate their bodies without logs or computer programs. I guess I am lucky because I know exactly where I perform best, and exactly what to eat to get there (not ignoring hunger, and not giving in every time I want dessert). But, if someone is on the extremes, something is out of whack and for some reason they are ignoring the natural balance in their body. If through a food log someone finds that they are consistently undereating (possibly fast metabolism, probably mental eating issues) or are consistently overeating, then I think finding out the roots of those problems will be MUCH more effective than continuing to write down numbers that aren't serving that person well. Find your triggers, address them, and counting calories won't be necessary. Then you can go by the age old method of eat when hungry, stop when satisfied. Repeat.



"What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass for six hours a day. What are YOU on?" - Lance Armstrong
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [flyer521] [ In reply to ]
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C. - that was a really good answer. Thank you.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Do you keep track of what you eat? [tigerchik] [ In reply to ]
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I do keep track of what I eat. I log my nutrition intake daily in a food log, that monitors my calories, carbs, fat, and protein. I find it helpful when I'm aiming for certain caloric goals during Tri season, or when I'm just trying to maintain out of season. I'm studying to be a Registered Dietician, so I recommend this to my clients, as it gives them a better perspective of what they need to do. But, in your situation, you already know what you need to do. I think you could get away without crunching all those numbers every day, and just know that you are in control, and you don't have to beat yourself up over every little calorie. I had 3 cookies on Wednesday, big ones, and I felt horrible for it. But you know what, we can't change those things, so we move on and just try to get back on track. Life is too short to be so worried about these things, just use common sense, and you will be fine. Best of luck to you!!
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