Saturday, 14 January 2017

Do I track macros?

Simple answer - no.

I mean if you want to stop reading there you're more than welcome! But I thought I'd talk a little bit about why I tracked in the past, why it just wasn't for me and why I eat intuitively now.

Remember, I'm not a nutritionist or dietician and this is purely based on my experiences and my preferences. Everyone is different and it's important to find out what works for you. However, I think social media can be extremely misleading and just because everyone is following a trend and supposedly loving it, it doesn't mean you have to be doing it too..

My meal prep back in the day of macro counting..!
So to start with if you didn't know, 'macros' stands for macronutrients aka protein, carbohydrate and fat. It's what makes up the basis of our diets and by tailoring the percentage of each of these nutrients, it should supposedly help you to reach your desired goals..

So in all honesty, I started tracking my macros a couple of years ago just because I saw these girls with killer bodies on Instagram and they all stated they tracked macros. So naively, I believed them when they said that tracking macros was the only way I was going to have any chance of achieving this 'idealistic' body.

I went onto a website (the one that most insta fitness 'gurus' were recommending you to use) and I input all of my data such as height and weight along with my goals into a calculator for it to come out with some numbers and a total calorie intake for the day.

I wasn't a total novice at understanding what my rough caloric intake should be and I had a bit of an idea of what I should be eating in terms of ideally opting for whole foods and understanding the concept of portions (ish). But when I started to weigh my food by the gram and put every little thing I ate into the app 'My Fitness Pal' (MFP), what initially seemed like a good way of reaching my goals became a worryingly obsessional habit.

I panicked about eating more grams of carbs or fat than this calculator stated and I had this horrible fear that would approach every evening as I came to the end of my macros for the day. Eating out with friends or family became really difficult as I couldn't be sure what was in the food and it's often cooked with a lot more oil or butter than you can account for using MFP.

So if I went over on my macros or ate out and thought I went over, I used to have the mentality of 'screw it, Ive gone over so I'll make this into a cheat day'?! And this actually used to happen a couple of times a week..

A typical meal for me now with a good balance of macronutrients
I look back and can now see that was ludicrous. But at the time, I was getting very stressed over something which should be helping me and making life easier, not doing the total opposite.

Don't get me wrong, for some people this seems to work wonders, but as someone with obsessional tendencies (I blame the dentist in me), it was becoming really damaging and ruining my relationship with food. It was making the joy of eating become a chore and IMO, inputting every food item into an app to check its exact nutritional information isn't a healthy or sociable way to be living for the average person.

And that was just it - I wasn't prepping for a bikini show and this wasn't and isn't my occupation or career. Therefore, idk what triggered it but I suddenly realised I didn't need to be eating this way..



After tracking for a good 10-12 months, I went back to my usual regime slowly over the course of a few weeks and I gradually began to find my love for food again. I was eating and enjoying things I hadn't tried in ages. I phased out my monotonous diet of chicken, rice and veg, which I had adapted to for so long, just because I knew the macros off by heart and I thought it was a safe, 'healthy' meal to stick to (lol).

The good parts of counting macros for me:
1. It allowed me to be able to eye ball portion sizes
2. It made me understand I needed to incorporate all macronutrients (and not fear carbs!)

One of the best parts of not counting: no paranoia when dining out!
So I have taken these good points and I still use them daily. However, now I intuitive eat, which essentially means I rely on my body to tell me when it's full or when I feel like I need more of something - usually chocolate.. I don't stop eating just because an app tells me I've reached my cut off for the day and equally if I knowingly over eat, I don't feel the urge to binge or restrict anymore. I just accept that I've enjoyed eating more of a certain food and go back to my usual routine the next day or the next meal.

I try to follow the 80:20 rule now. So 80% of the time my diet is composed of wholesome, nutritious foods and 20% of the time I'll have whatever I fancy, be it a brownie or glass of red!

Intuitive eating has allowed me to let go of the guilt and paranoia I associated with food when tracking my macros. I can go out for dinner and enjoy it. I can have a dessert and not panic about what macros may be in it. And probably the most ironic part (because it's the reason I started tracking in the first place), I am now the most content I've been in a long time with my figure, nutrition and lifestyle.

Jess x
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