“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food.” – Hippocrates
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison
Exercise is important; don’t get me wrong. It’s one of the best things you can possibly do for yourself. But I wouldn’t argue with someone who said diet was more important.
The quality of the food you eat is like the quality of materials you use to build the foundation of a house. If they’re not up to snuff, your house will collapse. Similarly, if your diet is not getting your body the nutrients it craves, then your health is going to suffer.
Keeping track of your diet can be major challenge. Most of us make decisions about what to eat on the spur of the moment. You walk into Starbucks or McDonald’s and see something that looks good. And boom, you make a snap decision about what’s going in your body without thinking of how that fits with the other food you’ve eaten that day.
The problem with spur-of-the-moment eating decisions is that they often leave your body overfed and undernourished You may end up with more than enough calories to fuel your energy needs but the incorrect amount of macro and micronutrients your body needs to run efficiently.
In order to ensure that your body is getting what it needs, you’ve got to have some sense of what that is and where it comes from. I developed the following system for tracking macronutrients and a few other things like sodium intake, added sugars, and fiber.
With my goals in mind, I keep close track of what I’m eating and when I’m eating it. This helps me make better choices as the day goes along. If I notice that I’m high on sodium in the day by noon, I know to choose foods with low amounts of sodium later in the day. This helps to avoid the pitfalls that come with short-term planning.
You may be thinking that this is too much. And I’d probably agree with you. I’ve never done it longer than a week or two. It takes a lot of effort and research into what you’re eating and what you’re supposed to be eating. That’s why I recommend trying it for a short period of time to begin with. Or possibly only track a handful of the categories; like calories, carbs, proteins, and fats.
Even though few of us have the time to do this for every day or every week, the information you might learn after a few days about the results of your typical diet might be enough to help you make some improvements. You might also find that documenting what you’re putting in your body will force you to make wiser choices.
If you try it, or have tried it before, give me some feedback. I’d love to hear what you think.