In Brief Defense of Food Tracking

My car was making a funny sound, and it was not accelerating the way it used to. I took it to the mechanic to be repaired.

“I’ll be able to tell you what’s happening as soon as I look at the report from the computer,” he said.

“No, don’t look at the report – can we just make a good guess and do a few repairs today?” I replied.

The mechanic looked confused.

“We can always do more repairs later,” I explained, “so if we fix the wrong things today we can just keep working on it some other time.”

With strained politeness he said, “But don’t you want to use the report so that we get it right the first time?”


Those of you who know me will be quick to say that the above conversation is a work of fiction – which it is. Of course I want to use the report! If the car itself can tell me what’s not working well, why would I want to ignore it, rely on my own guesses, and take more time than necessary to solve the problem (maybe even creating new problems along the way)?

But forget about me, for a minute. Put yourself in the mechanic’s shoes….

Now come back to thinking about me, because that mechanic’s reaction is a perfect description of how I feel when someone tells me they would prefer not to track their food.

Is my car running any differently if I ignore the report?

Is your body going to account for food any differently based on whether or not you write it down?

Reports provide data – objective, neutral data – that allow us to spot issues and find ways to resolve them. We can guess at the issues like I asked my mechanic to do, but we’ll resolve them much sooner if we use the reports!

So, you foxy little Porsche, break out that food diary/app/camera/tracking tool of your choice and stick with it.

PS – If analogies aren’t your thing, how about science? “Those who kept food records six days a week — jotting down everything they ate and drank on those days — lost about twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less, Stevens tells WebMD.”

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