Mindful Food Tracking

Mindful Food Tracking

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Perimenopause can take some women by surprise. Inundated with half-truths that simply don’t serve them, ladies in their 40’s and 50’s tend to complain of unpleasant symptoms such as weight gain and wonder if it’s related to “hormones.” While hormone imbalance is associated with weight gain in select individuals, that’s often an oversimplified explanation.

A recent client commented that her back side seemed to fill out, joking that it’s “COVID plump.” While reduced sleep and increased stress can contribute to weight gain, these tendencies may impact food choices and total food intake. We’re not all destined to gain a “quarantine-15,” so let’s look at the obvious before diving deeper into the hormone abyss.

I like to start by asking my clients, “Have you ever tracked your foods?” I’m frequently met with a blank stare before receiving a response.

I explain that tracking intake has a lot more to do with the big picture of nutrition. You learn not only what your macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and calories look like, but also your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that literally run the show, affecting how you feel and what you crave. Food quality, in part, affects how your body metabolizes, uses, or stores the energy for future use.

Although I personally dislike tracking because I can become too “food focused,” I’m always enlightened by the experience. For that reason, I request that most of my clients track all foods and beverages for 3 consecutive days in a free desktop or mobile application, Cronometer.com.* Unlike other popular tracking apps, Cronometer lists all the major micronutrients, tallies fiber intake, and even breaks down amino acids from protein consumption. In only 3 days, we receive tremendous insight.

Let’s not overlook the mindfulness aspect of this exercise. By tracking foods, we’re literally paying attention to what we’re eating, how much we’re consuming, and how present (or not) we were while nourishing ourselves. Most of us can benefit from slowing down and engaging in mindful eating. I typically incorporate mindful and intuitive eating concepts after the initial tracking phase is completed.

Take the 3-day Mindful Food Tracking challenge and tell me what you discover. Were you surprised by any of the information? Do you plan to do anything differently going forward?

* Cronometer offers a mobile app that enables food label scanning to quickly add foods. I do not have any financial ties to this amazing app.

Author: Laura Farnsworth, MS, CNS, CN

Join me for my next article where we’ll break down food label fallacies. I’ll provide helpful tips, such as what to look for and what to avoid in a food label.

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