Why I don’t like calorie tracker appsFebruary 2020
There are many calorie tracker or kilojoule trackers available as apps nowadays. The premise behind them is you enter all of your personal information; weight, height, exercise, health goal (usually weight loss focused). The app then calculates your daily energy requirements based on what you have entered. Calories / kilojoules are the measure of energy provided in the food you eat.
Once you’ve got your daily calorie/kilojoule value you then enter everything you eat into the tracker daily and it tells you the energy of what you’ve eaten, plus your macronutrient breakdown (protein, carbohydrate and fat). Personally, I’m tired just from typing what these apps do, let alone being the person who enters and tracks everything fanatically.
Do calorie trackers support health?
This is a personal thing. As a nutritionist, I don’t like them because they solely focus on the calorie/kilojoule measurements. The clients I have had in the past using them are so focused on the number and staying on target. That is no way to live! These apps don’t teach you how to prepare and eat a balanced meal. You can eat highly refined food, and still meet your daily energy needs.
For example, you eat a muffin and enter it into your app. You see that you have eaten over a quarter of your energy needs for the day, so you choose to skip meals to ensure you don’t go over. This example is not my idea of health or a healthy relationship with food.
The way I work as a nutritionist is to encourage you to eat nourishing food. I don’t count macros or calories/kilojoules and I try to teach my clients to do the same. If you’re eating a plate of predominantly plant based foods you don’t need to count calories/kilojoules because you are nourishing your body instead. You are filling your body with vitamins, minerals, fibre and water – the essentials of life and a necessity for the body, not just calories/kilojoules. Do you see the difference?
What are calorie trackers good for?
Calorie trackers do have a place for health in some people. If you’re just starting out on your health journey, these can be good to show you what you’re eating and how often. I do a similar thing with clients initially. I will have a client complete a food diary and often the physical act of writing down everything they have eaten for a week can be eye opening. So for some, using a calorie tracker initially can be beneficial.
The other benefit I see with calorie trackers is if you’re trying to find foods you react too. For example, you keep getting digestive problems but you’re unsure what your trigger is. Using an app to track your food can be useful to look back on and see a correlation between symptoms and food.
Like everything in life there is always pros and cons. I will always encourage you to eat for health and nourishment over numbers in an app. You know an apple is way more nutritious than a piece of chocolate. You don’t need an app to tell you that. But if find that using an app is beneficial in the initial days of starting your health journey, then I support you.
Until next time… x
Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Sydney, Northern Beaches, Mona Vale
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