Thank you for checking out The Community Conversation, brought to you by Prototype Training Systems, home of CrossFit Prototype! This episode of The Community Conversation is a NUTRITION EDITION! Typically, The Community Conversation highlights a different member of the Prototype Community each week and allows them to tell their story, share their life experience, and communicate their perspective on all things fitness. For this episode, we have two of our Prototype Nutrition Coaches dropping some Nutrition knowledge bombs!
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For this nutrition edition of the Community Conversation, Prototype Nutrition Coach Jon Collette and Prototype Nutrition’s Registered Dietitian, Sam Hally will be discussing Food Tracking. If you’re looking to learn more about nutrition for yourself or pick up some good eating habit tips, you will want to check this out!
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Jon Collette 0:02
Thank you for tuning into the Community Conversation brought to you by Prototype Training System home of CrossFit Prototype. Sam and I are back with another nutrition episode to help provide you with some education and strategies to better your nutrition. There’s a lot of misinformation on nutrition and we want to aim to provide you with some clarity. Today, the topic that we want to discuss is whether or not it’s necessary to track your calories, track your macros, track your food, whether or not it’s necessary to track in general. So let’s see, this is kind of like more of a, like a discussion than anything else. So, um, I guess we can start with just going over our experience with tracking, I think we both have different experiences, and it’s kind of individualized. So Sam, why don’t we start with Have you ever tracked your food?
Sam Hally 0:55
So yeah, so I think most people know now that I do not track at all. There was a period of time while I was going through my dietetic internship that I actually did a lot of tracking. And I’ve mentioned before in a previous podcast about how I tested out a bunch of different diets. So I was like, really in tune with tracking when I was going through that experience, like learn about different things. But there was also a period of time where I just like track for my own benefit. I was like, Okay, I’m going to stay like within a certain number of calories, like, I’m going to try to get so much protein, until, like my experience tracking is it’s like a very stressful experience for me, like me personally. Like, within the dietetics profession, it’s like typically a bunch of like, type a people. And like a lot of us who like go into this, like, in school, it’s like, like food is very interesting to us for specific reasons. And so like, for me, it was interesting, because I’m like, okay, you can like treat a lot of diseases by eating food. But like when I turned around to do it for myself, it was like almost obsessive. And so like, I felt like I wasn’t being a good dietitian if I wasn’t tracking properly and like all these things, so for me to like, live in this world of like, food is my life. To think about tracking it was like very counterproductive.
Jon Collette 2:15
So for you, when you’re tracking your food, it was like-you felt like I don’t know, maybe bad or if you went over your calories, you felt like restricted in some way. If you were tracking your food, is that what I’m hearing?
Sam Hally 2:28
Yeah, yeah, it just like it was overwhelming to like, constantly be planning out my meals, it was overwhelming to be like, Oh my gosh, like I ate out and I don’t know the content of this meal. Like for me, personally, it was too much. And I felt this is a personal issue of like, I felt like it like if I failed at this I was like not a good dietician. Like I was doing things wrong, because so many people in the field are so like, on top of things, and I’m not and I’m not a type A person, I’m a Type B person. And I like to do things I like to be organized, but it just felt wrong. So for me, it was overwhelming. And so like, I don’t track it all anymore. Just because like, that’s not the way I enjoy living my life. I don’t enjoy eating food in a way that like I have to keep track of it. Because then it like, makes me second guess myself. And that’s a personal issue. And I’m probably not the only one that feels that way. So I will recommend it sometimes, but I don’t do it.
Jon Collette 3:25
Did you learn anything from tracking your food that helps you now?
Sam Hally 3:31
Tthe interesting thing is I have always eaten a certain way. I think, for me, tracking didn’t change the way I ate. It just made me stressed out about the way right because I learned from a very young age, I came from a family of everyone, like everyone in my family works in the medical profession, right where like nutrition was important. So I’ve eaten the same way my entire life. And so tracking only made me hyper fixate on it. And so I already knew about the way I ate just because my education background, but I definitely think it has some positives for some people who like maybe don’t always know like, what they’re eating what they’re like they’re putting in their body. Because like because I learned it in school, like I could rattle off like probably the calorie content of way too many foods. And I can tell you the protein content of way too many foods. And that’s just because it’s like a requirement for what I do. But if I didn’t have that background knowledge, like I know, I have a lot of people that come to me and think like spinach is the protein source. Like it’s a great way if you don’t have that background knowledge, like if you don’t have a degree in dietetics of like, Oh, this is the food that I’m putting in my body. So yeah, for me, it wasn’t a good thing but I know for a lot of people that is and so I think that’s like a perfect way for you to talk about like your experience Jon, tracking and like how that’s worked for you.
Jon Collette 4:59
Yeah. I mean, I started tracking my food in 2014. And I still track but I would say that I’m not as strict with my tracking as I used to be. I think because I’ve learned so much from tracking my food like on what portion size and things like that look like, if I had more of a specific goal of whether I was looking to lose or gain weight, or whatever it was, maybe I’d be a little bit more diligent with my intake, but right now I’m just trying to like feel good and like just eat it like maintenance. So I’ve been a little bit more like intuitive, but I definitely have more awareness when it comes to certain things for sure. Like, I like to have like peanut butter and banana sometimes, like I used to have like, three and a half times the serving size of peanut butter. Just not knowingly just because I’m like, okay, like I’m putting tablespoon of peanut butter on like every little cut of banana. And that’s still something I have, but it’s sort of like a little bit more awareness like okay, like, you don’t have that basic awareness then it can be really tough to be like, what am I doing wrong? Like, why do I like I don’t know, what do I feel like uncomfortably full after eating like this snack or whatever the reason is, and it could just be like just unaware of like portion sizes when it comes to certain things that tells me a lot but yeah, I don’t track my food like religiously anymore I also have kind of, it’s allowed me to understand like how to be able to get the amount of protein that I want to get in a day from having that experience of tracking my food very consistently. Versus you know, if I were to just track my food like one day a week, I’d probably still not fully understand like, how much protein I should be having or whatnot it’s just helped me like form kind of like better systems for for myself and if I have usually have like a similar breakfast and a similar lunch most days, I might have like a few different meals, but they’re, they’re usually around the same like nutrient quality, so then it kind of like makes it easier to like estimate if I go out to dinner or something like that. I used to I used to be so strict on my tracking that I was like I would have like half a Swedish Fish to get into go ahead and hit the carb to like the number. And like, Alright, like I’m just like ballpark range because like what’s like, like here and there a little bit is I’ve also like learned a lot more since 2014 of you know, your, your carbs and your fats and things like that, like they don’t have to be like an exact amount you can, you know, you can go ahead and have more carbs or less carbs based off your food preference. And you can go ahead and still like maintain good performance and whatnot. So um,
Sam Hally 8:04
So john, on the introduction of tracking in your life, were you trying to like, track anything specific or it was just like you went all in and you were tracking everything all at once?
Jon Collette 8:15
I started tracking my food because I followed paleo and I was like, okay, like these are foods I can have in these foods I can’t have and then I started listening to this guy, Layne Norton, who I still follow to this day listen to all the time he’s like, my favorite person to learn from when it comes to nutrition. And like flexible eating and like how like this is like something that you can go ahead and do with instill, you know, make progress with your goals, whether it’s build muscle, lose fat, or whatever it is. And I was like cool, like, I can have a bagel again, like this sounds great. Like I’ll go ahead and just monitor my calorie intake. And that’s what I did. And I was like, this is great, now I can and you know, there’s just so much more that I’ve that I’ve taken away from it, but it’s given me a better relationship with food that for you, it sounds like the opposite sounds like it was a little stressful for you. For me, I now have a better relationship with food that I can have a bagel and not feel like okay, like I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to I’m going to be unhealthy I’m going to be sick, like I’m putting bad ingredients in my body like whatever it is. And now I can be like okay, like having like a balance of all these things. It’s also good to understand too that if your diet if you’re tracking or if you’re tracking your stuff, and you realize that you’re hungry all the time and how many calories you’re consuming. You can also be like okay, like maybe I’ll look at my like what I’ve actually eaten today It feels like Dunkin Donuts like breakfast sandwich and then it was like you know, microwave pizza and it was just like all these things that are overly filling and just very tasty. You know, kind of we can be like alright, maybe we can try to Move some fruits and vegetables in here and try to go ahead and increase the, the quality of food that we have. It’s just like tracking your finances. How I look at it is like I wouldn’t buy something unless I knew that I had money for it. But at the same time, like, I feel like I don’t need to religiously look at my bank account to know like, how much like what my what my allowances, if that makes sense. That’s kind of like how I like look at food at the moment is like, fine to have this, like, you know, moderation and things like that. But it’s also good to understand like, again, add up quickly if you don’t really if you don’t have that awareness.
Sam Hally 10:41
Yeah, absolutely. So that’s like that, because it’s like for you, it was a really good tool of like, you were able to use it to kind of get like a baseline understanding of what was going on with like your intake. And I feel like that’s like the perfect way to look at it of like, tracking your food is a really good tool. And like the reason it wasn’t good for me is because then it was stressing me out. And so it was like not a tool and I it didn’t change my habits at all, it was just a stressor. where it’s like, I like I had the data I like probably knew it, but to see it there in front of me was just like, nope, too much. Not an important part of my life. Yeah, then again, like, I’m not everyone else. And like, there are people that I would absolutely recommend tracking food to and like you’re the perfect example of like, that worked really well for you to kind of get an understanding of like, how to meet your goals and like how to be consistent and like just generally education on food, versus like someone else like, like, I don’t know, trying to think of like a good example, when I was like coaching for a while, like I was coaching college athletes have like their elite level athletes, but like, I was coaching female, like swimming and diving, right? Like females were in bathing suits, all day, every day. So I wouldn’t introduce that into their life. Because like, I don’t want to make that something that they’re hyper focused on. Because like, their sport is very much about like, the way they look. Right? And like they’re walking around in bathing suits all the time. And so like, that’s a situation where like, it’s not an appropriate one. So if one of them came to me with a nutrition question, I would say track your food, I would say like, let’s try to increase your protein by doing this, let’s try to make sure that we’re eating foods that feel you buy this, right, because it’s just like a different kind of person. And so it’s like a very individualized, like, who tracking is appropriate for. Because for some people, it’s a tool for some people, it’s a slippery slope. And it’s just like, making a discerning decision of if it’s the right choice for you based off of like who you are as a person and like what your end goals really are.
Jon Collette 12:47
Right. I also think too, they can also be a useful tool for people that have chronically under eight that are chronically under eating, and they don’t fully understand that their hat, like the amount of food that they’re having is, you know, not it could be the biggest reason why they’re struggling with their, with how they feel, you know, like going through the process of a reverse diet can be something that can be useful, having like accurate, like tracking methods, versus just being like, okay, you need to eat more, and then you go ahead and just, I feel like there can be more confusion with either either way, whether you’re tracking or not tracking, it can be like confusing to go ahead and be like, Okay, well how much should I be eating? It’s just like, well just eat whatever you feel like eating. And if someone has like chronic dieting history, like well, I feel like eating a box of cookies every day. Sometimes it’s like, okay, like, you know what I mean? It depends, it really does depend on the person’s eating disorder. Yeah, tracking their foods, probably not the best, best thing for them, because then it gets them hyper focused on food again, you know.
Sam Hally 13:56
Yeah full disclosure, it’s not. If you have an eating disorder, please do not track your food. Please come talk to us. Don’t track your foods. Sorry for interrupting.
Jon Collette 14:03
Talk to Leah if you’re struggling with something like that, but um, yeah, I mean, it depends on the individual. I know a lot of people that there’s like, you know, struggling, like, I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight, and then they’re like eating 1300 calories, it’s like, well, your body’s super conservative with burning calories, because it’s just like a survival mechanism. Like, your body doesn’t want to expend more energy, because you’re just giving ourselves to a little and doing so much activity. So like, if you have like, a little bit of data to understand that you’re not eating, not even nearly enough and, you know, can be useful, but you’re right, like depends on the person. To make assumptions on the person. Either you can, whether or not it’s like, you definitely shouldn’t track your food because you’re going to get an eating disorder or you should track your food because it’s gonna be helpful. It’s your really kinda like based off of what that where where someone is at like if someone is like super stressed out about eating an apple like they don’t need to worry about tracking their food like they need to go ahead and work on their relationship with food and probably have a coach to help them with that type of type of stuff and no Lee is doing a great job working with all these young girls that are struggling with that type of stuff and yeah, I doubt that Leah’s having any of those girls track their food. Probably not.
Sam Hally 14:13
That would be counterproductive. I feel like the best way to think about it is like if you think of the world in black and white and there’s like no gray area I feel like tracking is probably not the right choice for you. Like if you like our content like living with the gray area like rolling with the punches like going with the flow and like being flexible then tracking really does like give you some benefit where you like know it you use it as a tool but you give yourself some leeway. Right of like if you know that you are an all or nothing person like we don’t want you to go all in on the tracking and then that’s how it like leads down the path of disordered eating or like body dysmorphia or eating disorder but you’re able to like live in that gray area and like take it for what it is and like use it as cool data points to help you reach a goal then like jackings probably for you because really at the end of day like if someone has a very specific goal I think of like professional bodybuilding as like the perfect example because people who do that for a living are like always tracking everything there’s like very specific bulking phases and cutting phases and you know there’s a lot that goes into it that requires perfect tracking and so like that’s an example of like where there’s a very specific goal and so there’s like a very specific way to get there and tracking is the tool to help them do that. Now is the health that the healthiest way to live life I don’t know but that’s like a situation that I would say perfect example of board tracking is important. But for like person to person in case by case basis my answer as always with everything in nutrition is it really truly depends on you.
Jon Collette 17:21
Yeah, absolutely depends on what what’s what like what do you prefer? If like yeah, like you said if like um if it helps just having that you know that that data of like okay but this is what you this is what you eat this week and you can just look at it as like data then cool and then you can adjust that based off of you know what your goal is usually guy I want to I want to gain weight then you can go ahead and use tracking as a tool to help you like increase your calories a little bit but make sure that you’re not just you know, doing the old classic book where you’re just drinking a gallon of milk in a day and doing which you know, it’s a it is a tool and it also got to like meet your lifestyle as well like somebody has like a very you know, I guess one can be like someone that you know let’s say they’re a doctor or surgeon or something like that and they like or a shift worker and they’re like their schedules all over the place you know um, you probably you know, tracking your food might be a little bit difficult at times to go ahead like if you’re if you’re a surgeon and you do a 16 hour surgery and you miss a meal you know the last thing that you’re thinking of is like tracking your food right that’s why it’s for that person maybe not the best approach you know for that person ship maybe intermittent fasting is a good plan for them like if that’s what their regular schedule I like it and honestly it depends and that’s always what we should be thinking of. Is it depends there should never be an absolute of like no you shouldn’t track your food or yes you should track your food it shouldn’t be like well it totally depends on you your mindset around and also just like how you’re how you’re using it as a tool if it’s like destructive in any way then fine not a good idea.
Sam Hally 19:22
Yeah, and I think like that’s why nutrition ends up being so confusing. Because like, like the answer is always it depends. Like even from client to client, I can be talking to two people back to back and I tell them different things because it’s different for the person. And so like all the nutrition messaging coming at you from like, well from awesome for one, but like also anywhere on the internet anywhere from social media, like books and diets. Like there’s so much information and like the reason it’s probably so confusing all the time is it because like every single person probably needs a different message. Because every single person is different when it comes to nutrition like there’s by and large, grand sweeping information we can give to people like get enough protein, eat your fruits and vegetables drink enough water. Sleep well, you know?
Jon Collette 20:12
It really is difficult to get like your message across on social media, right? Because like, people have like, read some of our blog posts before and they’re like, so are they telling us to just eat junk food? Like, how dare they? Like, no, we’re saying like that it’s okay to have those things in moderation. That’s basically like the summary. But like, if you read something and just like a little blip on the internet, sometimes you’re not always like fully understanding what that what the message is. What you’re reading, so someone’s online saying, you know, the benefits of tracking your food. And then there’s someone else is saying the reasons why tracking your food may not be working for you, you’re like, Okay, like, I’m confused as shit, because I just read two different posts in a row about opposite stuff.
Sam Hally 20:53
Yeah, and like, I think that’s good. Like, we’re talking about, like, two ends of the spectrum, right? Like dragon can make great tracking can actually be terrible. And like, people fall anywhere on that spectrum. And so like, even within our own podcast, like, yeah, we probably have some contradictory stuff, because the messaging goes different to different people. And so like, this is why I always were like, it depends on you, you have to come talk to us because like, we can give you the message that’s really truly appropriate for you. Because at the end of day, really aside from those like four major things like eat your vegetables, get your protein, drink your water and sleep well, like we can’t give sweeping generalizations. That’s that’s like a really hard thing to do. And it’s like very, it’s frowned upon. That’s, that’s like not not the way we do things here. Like, this is a way to get you the information that you need to know, but also to encourage you to come talk to us. If you have more specific questions.
Jon Collette 20:58
Especially if you disagree with us have a conversation with us.
Sam Hally 21:17
I love when that happens.
Jon Collette 21:26
The open conversation is how we can actually learn versus just making assumptions on what you know what someone’s saying. So if you’re confused by anything that we’re saying, used by what we’re saying whether or not you should track your food or not. Whatever it is, ask us questions. Like, we’re happy to help you or happy to have an open conversation and see your point of view. So we can, you know, maybe have a better understanding of what you know what you’re confused about. Or maybe we’re maybe we need to be educated about something. But ask questions. And yeah, Sam, anything you want to at the end?
Sam Hally 22:43
I don’t think I have anything else. Jon, do you?
Jon Collette 22:47
Sam Hally 22:48
Awesome. So to wrap it up nicely. I do want to recap. Today we, we talked about tracking, do you need to track your food? Like we said the answer is it depends. And because it depends. That’s why you should come talk to us. If you have questions about anything we’ve talked about here today, or anything we’ve talked about in previous podcasts, or just about nutrition in general, please come find us. We touched on a little bit like if tracking is become a struggle for you and you’re struggling with disordered eating or eating disorders, please reach out to us. Or you can even reach out to Leah she’s been doing great work with the Empowered program and she’s definitely someone to use as a resource. With that said, if you have other suggestions for future topics, please do let us know we’d like to talk about the things that interest you. So reach out without as well. And I think that’s all we have for you. So have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai