I Deleted 'My Fitness Pal', Should You?
I deleted 'My Fitness Pal' and maybe you should too…
“It made me feel in control, but realistically, it was controlling me.”
I thought I had mastered the art of nutrition through perfectly tracking my food intake with that app My Fitness Pal. I knew exactly how many calories were in my meals and my food was weighed to the gram so I knew how many grams of protein, carbs and fats to track. If I ate out at a restaurant, I would keep a mental tally of all the foods I ate, and try to track it in the app as accurately as I could. My mind was constantly on calculating what I ate, what I was going to eat later, and what could “fit” in the rest of my day I ate less earlier. Going over my allotted macros would cause me so much anxiety.
While I still believe My Fitness Pal helped me reach my fitness goals, and helped me understand the macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients I was eating, I didn’t anticipate the addictive qualities it could have. I began using the app at a young age, probably around 12 or 13 years old. (I now think any calorie counting app needs to have an age minimum of 18 years!) As I went through high school, my eating became more restrictive and the app was my crutch. I became addicted to calculating and tracking my calories. I couldn’t focus on anything because I was constantly think about food and numbers. I let the app tell me how many calories I should eat (which was too low) instead of listening to my hunger. At the time, I thought it was helping me “balanced” because I was willing to eat a wider variety foods knowing I could make the calories fit. The control freak inside of me loved knowing exactly what I was eating. It made me feel in control, but realistically, it was controlling me.
Transitioning out of high school, I used my fitness pal to prep for my two bikini competitions. Body building is definitely a time where tracking is necessary. Extreme results require extreme practices. After I competed, I experienced hormonal issues and one of my healing protocols required eating a much larger amount of calories than I was used to. I utilized tracking to make sure I was eating enough. I didn’t track the macros, I just made sure I hit a minimum calorie goal.
At this point, I wasn’t very “obsessed” with the app like I used to be, but something was still making hold on. I wouldn’t delete the app. Even if I didn’t use it daily, I thought it should be there “in case I needed it.” I would delete it, than re-download it. My boyfriend even deleted it for me because he saw the stress it was still causing me, and I would get frustrated and download it again.
Why was I so attached to a little app to tell me the calories in my food?
Letting go of a behavior that we’ve engaged in for so long can be really hard. Letting go of control can be so scary, but it is so liberating.
When I finally committed to intuitive eating in the past year, I deleted My Fitness Pal, for good. I knew the app was not serving me. Holding on to the app was a way for me to hold on to control, but I knew I should delete it. I haven’t looked at the app in almost a year. The mental clarity and self-awareness I have gained have far outweighed the initial stress it had caused me.
Are you ready to delete your calorie tracking app?
While I still believe keeping a food diary has its benefits in certain situations, I don’t recommend it as a long-term habit. Once you learn what macronutrients look like and how to efficiently fill your dietary needs, maybe you’re ready to delete the app entirely.
Ask yourself some questions:
“is this app truly serving me?” If the answer is no, delete it.
“do I need to know the exact number of calories in my food?” If the answer is no, delete it.
“does this bring more stress into my life?” If the answer is yes, delete it.
Food is not supposed to be hard. Nutrition is not supposed to be tricky. Food is not a math equation. Food is fuel. Food is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. If tracking your food is causing you stress and anxiety, it is not healthy and it is not adding to your life. I hope this post helps you if you’re struggling, and gives you permission to delete a little app that controls so many of us.