Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to track what you eat and drink along with when you eat and drink it. Take a browse on any of the major app stores and you’ll see the list of nutrition tracking offerings is practically endless. Often, keeping a close eye on what goes into your body is marketed purely as a weight loss tactic – and certainly, it’s been proven to be pretty effective on that count. A 2019 study by Duke University found that, even without following any specific diet, overweight candidates who wrote down exactly what they ate and when lost a significant amount of fat. Often, seeing the entire amount of food and drink you consume laid out before you can deter you from eating more – I’m sure most of us know how easy it is to absent-mindedly graze on snacks throughout the day even alongside eating three full meals. Such things add up without us realising, and can contribute massively to weight gain, and various other associated health problems, in a rather subtle and unexpected way.
Of course, there are many more reasons to track your nutrition than simply losing weight, and more ways of doing so than just keeping a food diary. Here at MAG, for example, we offer the services of our specialised nutritionist – a personal health coach; someone who’s a cut above any nutrition-tracking app and can get to know you better than any digital programme ever could, helping you cut through the swamp of conflicting and misleading nutrition advice that can be found out on the internet. Every day a new article is published claiming that something which was once considered healthy actually isn’t (and vice-versa). Most of us live busy lives, and finding the time to do all the necessary research to get down to the actual truth can be tricky, and a real time-sink. A specialised nutritionist can offer a consultation that will paint a picture of your personal dietary needs, and can then draw up a detailed plan on how to effectively meet them without you having to painstakingly investigate whether you’re doing it correctly.
At the end of the day, diet is about far more than just weight loss or gain. The engine that is our body needs fuel – it’s a delicate machine, with all manner of parts that need servicing, and a nutritionist understands exactly how our diets provide that service. For example, even through tracking your meals for a month, and consulting with you personally on how you felt at various points throughout that period, a nutritionist could discover a previously-unknown food intolerance that’s been making you feel lousy without even realising why. Many such intolerances don’t obviously manifest themselves through symptoms like rashes or inflammation, and may have more subtle effects that still detract from your quality of life.
Beyond even this, tracking nutrition – especially with the assistance of a specialist – can help you figure out whether you’re eating enough of all the necessary food groups to keep your body and mind functioning at their optimal level. Your BMI can be well within a healthy range, and you can be a highly-active person, but that doesn’t mean your diet isn’t lacking in some way. Nearly 90% of Americans, for example, reportedly have some manner of nutritional deficit in their diet that creates health issues or concerns. The statistics for the UK aren’t vastly different, either. As previously stated, it’s a time-consuming and tricky task to keep track of where you may be slipping up, but a specialist can do that for you and tell you exactly what you should be eating more of, less of, or cutting out completely in order to truly treat your body like the temple it is.
Overall, perhaps the greatest and most unique benefit of seeking the help of a nutritionist is accountability. This is certainly something you don’t get with an app – there’s only so much impact a reminder popping up on your phone can truly have. Particularly if you find it hard to stick to diets, having a real human being holding you accountable – one you’re likely paying, too – can make all the difference between being motivated enough to maintain your nutrition plan and lax enough to let it slip. You’ll be getting direct help from an expert who not only knows exactly what they’re talking about, but is also familiar with you personally - in an ideal position to offer exactly the kind of encouragement or reassurance you need to stick to the plans they’ve drawn up for you. You wouldn’t start a diet in the first place if you didn’t want to improve your health, and there’s no denying that, on such a journey life frequently throws up discouragements and obstacles to lead you off-track. There’s no shame in admitting you might need a little push now and again.
However, whether or not you seek specialist help or you simply want to write a food journal or make your own diet plan, tracking nutrition is a valuable activity and is very unlikely to do anything but help you on the path to a healthier life. Even if it merely connects you with your nutritional intake a bit more, it’s surely worth the few minutes per day it might take – isn’t it? Food and drink are two of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures, after all. Speaking personally, diet can all-too-often just feel functional – we simply eat or drink whatever we’re craving or will give us the energy we need to keep going – but paying a little more attention to the impact it has on our body and mind allows us to truly appreciate our diet for everything it adds to your life; from the way it tastes to the amazing things it can do for our wellbeing. Give it a try, if you haven’t already, and you may well find yourself feeling healthier and happier in hardly any time at all.