Last week’s blog about why macro tracking worked for me got A LOT of traction. I want to follow it up with a post on who should NOT use this tool. Keep in mind, all of us are different and these are not hard and fast rules, I just want to give you the full picture so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
First and foremost, if you currently have an eating disorder and you plan to use macro tracking as a way to keep your calories as low as possible, you should not do it. In my eyes, the goal of tracking is to find freedom, hence the term “flexible dieting.” If you are using macros as a way to control and restrict, my advice is to stay away. Also, please reach out to a therapist for help. Nutrition coaches are great, but helping someone recover from an eating disorder belongs in the hands of a therapist. Please reach out if you need suggestions.
Second, if you have HAD an eating disorder or disordered eating in the past, and you find that it brings up your old tendencies, don’t do it. The most important thing is a healthy relationship with food. If you’ve done the work to repair that relationship, but weighing and logging your food, takes you back to that dark place, just don’t do it.
Third, if tracking macros stresses you out and makes you feel like a failure because you cannot hit your numbers, don’t do it. The goal is not to make our lives harder, the goal is to make our lives better. I DO think this is an issue that can be worked through with a coach, but if you don’t want to work with a coach to help you through the process, ditch it. Feeling like a failure will leave you frustrated and far away from your goals.
Fourth, if tracking makes you neurotic and obsessive, don’t do it. Again, it’s not about controlling every morsel of what goes in your mouth, it’s about awareness, portion control and fitting your favorite foods into your macros for the day so you don’t feel deprived.
Fifth, if you can’t be consistent and find yourself tracking on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, but only half track on Wednesday and forget about the weekends, stop wasting your time. Just like anything, you need to be consistent to make it work so don’t do it if you’re only going to half-ass it. You will be much better off working on habit formation, rather than weighing your food some of the time.
Finally, if you have a basic understanding of where to get protein, carbohydrates and fats and you just want to get healthier and not necessarily shredded, no need to track! You can lose weight and get healthy if you simply focus on eating slowly, having a serving of lean protein at each of your meals, fill up on veggies, and eat healthy fats with some of your meals. On the flip-side of that, if you have ZERO clue as to what protein, carbs and fats are, take some time to read up on that. Begin to understand what you are putting in your body. Learn how to read a nutrition label and focus on portion sizes. This new knowledge, if applied consistently, will move you forward by leaps and bounds toward your goal.
Bottom line, there is no one size fits all approach to nutrition. We all have different goals, needs and relationships with food. Focus on finding a way of eating that makes you feel good, that gives you the energy you need for the day and includes foods that you actually enjoy eating. If you want to try tracking your macros, give it a go! Just know that it’s not the only way to get the job done.