I’ve been pretty consistent at food-logging since about the end of November. I used to use My Fitness Pal on and off for that purpose but then I would just stop using it seriously and at that point I gave up entirely because if I wasn’t being honest, there was no point in using it. But it would usually help get me back on track eating right and then I would have an idea of what my goal was each day and what that felt and looked like in terms of the amount of and what foods I ate. You see, after it becomes a habit, you get a pretty good idea of what you need to meet your macro and calorie goals. Sticking to logging every day really helps avoid temptations though, so depending on how serious your goals are it can help to use it long-term. I didn’t begin using it long term until this time around because I was much more focused on my fitness results so I needed to track macros in order to see the best results possible. When it was just a matter of generally eating healthier I didn’t have as much of a concrete goal for it, so it fell by the wayside too often.
Anyway, here are some tips and tricks I learned since using it for the last several months. This has gotten so easy and ingrained into my routine that I even was going to try stopping this week and see how I did, but I can’t. I still just plug everything in there in the mornings that I plan to eat, and then stick to it. See if these tricks help you make food-logging part of your daily routine!
Save Meals, Recipes, and Foods for Faster Logging
I plug every recipe I eat into MFP because a lot of times I eat it all week so it will be easy to just go back into my recipes and find it. I use “meals” for combinations I’ve logged that typically all go together and that I eat frequently. For example, one day I logged my Huevos Rancheros as separate things instead of a recipe and I just saved it as a “meal”. This is convenient if the meal can sometimes vary slightly. Instead of having to edit the recipe, you can edit the individual items once you log the meal.
Foods I save are typically created with fast food nutrition calculators. My regular Chipotle meal is saved in there as well as a couple others, but I don’t use the Foods category very much other than that. It’s just a way of entering a single item and all of it’s nutrient values manually, but most everything you need is already stored in the database.
Plan Your Food for the Day and Stick To It
I plug everything into MFP for the day that I’m going to eat while I’m sipping my coffee in the morning (or the night before if I have time). Then that’s how I know what to pack to work with me and I usually stick closely to what I planned.
To Save Time, Don’t Log Vegetables or Seasonings
I save time by not including seasonings in my recipes and if I’m just being a little lazy I don’t log my vegetables because their carbs are pretty negligible since they’re mostly fiber carbs. And calorie count is next to nothing. I do however log the oil I cooked them in. This doesn’t apply to starchy vegetables though! And I do try to include salty seasonings in my recipes in case I want to check on my sodium intake.
I will say that if a recipe I made is an original creation I usually will include all of the seasonings in it…but this is so I can reference the recipe when I go to blog about it!
The Bar Code Scanner is a Big Time-Saver
Use it! It’s improved so much from the original smartphone bar code scanners. Saves time searching for the right thing and it’s important to have the right brand of something. Sometimes different brands can be very similar but not always.
It’s Okay to Miss a Day or Two
Since November I probably missed or didn’t finish logging a handful of days. These are usually days where I went to parties/family dinners and didn’t have the recipes for things to log. Or cheat days! Which are few and far between for me. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. An occasional bad day is fine and actually can be good for you. Even when I have cheat meals I try to log the rest of what I ate (cheat meals are just difficult to log if they’re at restaurants). That way I have an idea of what I have room for so as not to go TOO overboard.
I do plan to eventually be more lax on the food-logging. I’m calming down a little this past week, but still log most of what I eat to make sure I’m still doing okay. It seems I have a pretty firm grasp on what my body needs each day but I’m afraid that stopping will lead me to overeating because if I’m not logging it, it doesn’t hold me accountable to anything. Also, I like having all my recipes logged in My Fitness Pal because I grab the nutrition facts for recipe posts from that. So I use it for more reasons than just to see my calories and macros. It’s been a great tool and I hope you all find some good use in it!