My Experience Using A Food/Calorie Tracking App

Before I begin, I would love to take the opportunity to say that not a single soul reading this article NEEDS to use a food tracking app, needs to change their eating habits, needs to be focused on the food they are consuming, or needs to continue reading this article if they think it will perpetuate their own unhealthy mental tendencies towards food consumption and restrictions. 

I would also like to give a quick shout-out to all my ladies who struggle with having an unhealthy relationship with food. I see you, I hear you, and I am one of you. 

Now we may begin-

Many moons ago, in my middle school health class, our teacher told us about a nifty little app called Fooducate. Fooducate is an app in which you can track every single thing you eat. Each food that you track has a health rating and nutrition facts. Along with keeping track of the food you eat, you can also use the “lose weight” feature, in which you enter how much weight you want to lose in a certain period of time. The app will then adjust your recommended daily calorie and sugar intake to reach that goal. Every time you enter a food that you eat, the app updates how many calories you have consumed, and how many recommended calories you have left for the day. 

This app seems like a helpful tool to keep you accountable and on a healthy track. For me and my insecure 12 year mind, it was a way for me to obsess over and restrict my food consumption to try to lose the most amount of weight as possible.  If my recommended calorie intake for the day was 1300, I would try to eat under 1000 for the satisfaction of seeing how many more calories I was “allowed” to eat, but had the willpower not to. Nevermind that 900 calories aren't enough for a 12 year old growing child, all I could see was that it would help me lose weight. 

The overwhelming way I was met with satisfaction for not eating enough was parallel to the overwhelming self hatred and disgust for when I ate “too much”. 1350 calories in one day? Shameful and embarrassing. 1500 calories in one day?  Unbelievable and appalling. 

My poor, juvenile self was caught in a web of misinformation about leading a healthy lifestyle, and this app just cocooned me into a perpetual online log of every move I made in an attempt to live this warped idea of a healthy lifestyle. 

Many moons later with time, information, and a self image that I’ve worked tirelessly on to be positive, I decided to redownload the nifty little app. I decided to download the app because I hadn't  felt like my energy level or overall health was what it could be, and I attributed it to the food I was eating. Before downloading it, I tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t pay attention to the calorie count, I wouldn't use the app for weight loss, and that I would solely use the app to give myself a better idea of the nutritional value of what I ate on a typical day and what I should consume more or less of. I won’t lie to you, I was terrified. I was terrified I would fall right back into old, negative thought patterns, become obsessive, try to limit my calorie intake, and find satisfaction and pride in the action of starving myself and putting my body in peril to become a version of myself that took up less physical space. 

GUESS WHAT LADIES!!!! 

I DID! 

The first day I tried to track my food, I went over 900 calories over my daily recommended amount. Instead of considering that it was my first day doing this, that I had decided to eat 2 Krispy Kreme donuts that day (which I enjoyed quite a bit), and that it was totally fine to go over my calorie recommendation, I instead decided that the next day it would be cool to eat WAY less than an educated human privileged with a whole pantry of food should eat. I felt bad physically AND mentally in a way that felt very reminiscent of 7th grade me, which happened to be the  exact OPPOSITE of what I was trying to accomplish. I was so ashamed of my behavior, after preaching to myself and the people around me that health is not weight, it's how you feel. How could I be such a hypocrite you may ask? I attribute it to a very deeply engraved pattern of seeing food as either the root of all evil or the only answer to my problem. Also society. We can blame society for the majority of issues. 

The more time went on, I got better about food tracking in a less obsessive way and food tracking only to make sure that I was eating whole foods. That was a good period of time. Then I do what I always do, and had a few days of overeating that threw me off. Then I stopped food tracking entirely and now we’re here. 

All in all, I decided I don’t need to be a consistent food tracker. It doesn’t work for me. 

If you're anything like me, tracking your food can be more harmful than beneficial, mentally. Doing it right requires effort, education, and self awareness. If you feel you aren’t in a good head space to track your food, don’t do it. If you think it will cause you to obsess over the food you eat, don’t do it. If you’re nervous about taking the leap and tracking your food to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, just know that a girl like you was able to sort out her unhealthy viewpoints and habits (of course with a few hiccups along the way and in the future), and there is hope for you too. If you try it and decide you don’t like how it makes you feel, don’t do it. 

Consuming good foods may be beneficial to your body, but it is of my opinion that you are only as healthy as your mind.