Nutrition and ‘eating healthy’ can be a HUGE roadblock for a lot of people and is one of those things that people always talk about but never start. Part of the reason is people don’t know where to begin, so they don’t.
I wrote Step 1 of this post back in August (check it out here) talking about where to start with healthy eating. Step 1 outlined why it's important to make eating three meals a day a habit. If you haven't mastered that quite yet, go back and read Step 1 and work on getting consistent with three meals a day.
If you're a boss at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, let's talk about what happens next.
RECORDING A BASELINE
In order to make an effective plan and figure out where you need to go, you have to establish a starting point. To do that, I recommend you start tracking what you’re eating. Don't stop reading yet. You may be thinking that tracking your food is a little ambitious for Step 2, however, it's what's going to help you record your baseline.
Once you're consistently eating three meals per day, start writing down everything you're eating. Don't worry about calories and macros and all that at this point, simply write down what you're putting in your mouth. This includes beverages, too.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRACK YOUR FOOD
Keeping track of what you're eating is the only sure-fire way to see what you are actually consuming. I know for me, when it comes to food I never think I'm eating as much as I actually am. Or I may *accidentally* forget about something I ate or drank.
Writing it down will also help you start to see where you can begin to make changes. If you're planning on consulting a nutrition coach of some sort, they may have you do this as your first assignment anyways. It gives insight into what we're working with!
HOW TO TRACK YOUR FOOD
I recommend tracking your intake for a minimum of three days but really at least a week. Download this simple tracker or grab a pen a notebook to keep a daily log.
Write down what you're eating and drinking throughout the day and list basic quantities.
Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1 piece of toast, 8 oz. glass of OJ
You can be as detailed or basic as you want. (Ex: 1 piece of toast vs. 1 piece of whole wheat toast with butter and jam) The goal here is to simply see what's going in.
Another thing to note while you're beginning to track: try your best not to autocorrect. Even though we are on the path to healthy eating, you want to be sure you're establishing an honest baseline. The point of this log is to show what your current diet generally looks like.
So, if you typically dine out 4-5 days per week and drink a beer with dinner every night (which these things are totally fine, depending on your goals!) then stay true to that. This week of tracking shouldn't look different than your norm.
Of course there are also apps out there for tracking your food. My Fitness Pal is a great one. I've also used another one called Lose It. As much as I love these tools, they can be overwhelming for basic tracking. However, if seeing your calorie breakdown and nutrition information is exciting to you and not scary, then try an app!
GIVE IT A TRY
Tracking your food for 7 days is ideal to get a good picture of what a typical week of eating looks like for you. At the very minimum you should track for 3 days. It may seem like a big step, but it's also a step to show your commitment to the getting on the right track. I know you can do it! Once you’ve tracked for 7 days, tell me about it in the comments below!
Remember, this step is all about awareness. The reason we track is to see what we’re actually doing. This exercise is not meant to make you feel bad about yourself or what you’re eating, it’s simply to help give you a realistic picture of what your current diet looks like.
Keep an eye out for Step 3, where we’ll be taking a look at goals and assess where and how to go about making changes!