Benefits of tracking your food intake

Positives and negatives of your daily routine can be recognized when tracking food.

As the New Year approaches, resolutions and goal setting may be on your mind. An important first step in goal setting and beginning down the road of behavior change is to assess where you are at currently, Michigan State University Extension recommends. By tracking what you eat for a given amount of time, you will get a big picture of your eating habits.

Begin by deciding how long you will track your food. Will it be for a week, a month, etc? Also, how will you track? There are many options. Free apps are available for smart phones and tablets, websites such as www.choosemyplate.gov offers a free SuperTracker, or you could use the tried and true pen and paper method. Choose what will be the most convenient for you.

Tracking your food intake will give you insight into many aspects of your eating habits. The more specific and accurate you are with reporting, the more accurate your information will be. You may begin to see that you are missing entire food groups (i.e vegetables, dairy). If you are not sure what is recommended, educate yourself at www.choosemyplate.gov on what you need. Each food group provides us with nutrients crucial for maintaining health, so choose nutrient dense foods from all five food groups.

Do not forget to track all the little extras; coffee creamer and sugar, condiments, candies from your coworker’s candy stash, beverages, etc. You may be shocked to find out how many calories are in these forgotten treats. As little as 100 extra calories could equate to 10 extra pounds per year. These are also easy items to cut out or substitute with healthier options.

Tracking food intake will also show you what you are doing well already. Continue with these habits so that you don’t have to start from scratch. Building on what you are currently doing and taking small steps to improve your eating habits will help you to be more successful!

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