When you’ve made logging your food in MyFitnessPal a habit, you can expect a ton of benefits, including better awareness of the portion sizes that are right for your body and goals, plus accountability and motivation to get to where you want to be. But as the party-filled holiday season approaches, tracking your intake might draw the attention of friends and family, particularly if you decide to track what you eat at festive gatherings.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might even find some of your loved ones are interested in tracking their food intake themselves! But, it can be tricky to explain what you’re doing to anyone who’s curious or judgmental about your tracking habits. Overall, confidence is key here, says Felicia Newell, a registered dietitian. “Most people will understand if you come at it from a place of self-assuredness versus defensiveness. There’s nothing shameful about tracking if it works for you and helps you make better decisions to nourish your body.”
Ahead, nutrition pros share their best advice for navigating questions around food tracking from — and setting boundaries with — the people you care about most.
It’s worth noting that some people probably won’t mention your food tracking if they see you doing it. But if the conversation does come up, an analogy can be helpful in explaining what you’re doing, Newell notes. “It’s like your bank account. You’re not going to just blindly spend money without thinking or planning — not if you want to be financially healthy anyway,” she says. Or, you could be more straightforward: “Explain to people that while you’re trying to adopt healthier eating habits, you’re tracking your foods so you can have more data to learn from to help support your goals.”
Having a strong reason for tracking makes sticking with the habit easier and helps people understand why you’re doing it. “If tracking what you eat during the holidays will help you be more mindful of what and how much to eat, and ultimately makes you feel better, share that with your family and friends,” says Chrissy Arsenault, a registered dietitian. “You can even share how tracking has helped you reach your health goals and how this has translated to mental, physical and emotional health as well,” she adds. When people understand what you hope to accomplish, and how you’ve already succeeded, they’re more likely to lend their support.
Once you’ve explained what you’re doing and why most friends and family will move on. But if someone has a negative response to your tracking habits, one reply that tends to shut down additional commentary is, “I just feel better if I eat this way,” according to Kate Cline, a registered dietitian. “It’s often a safe statement that people don’t really push back against.”
If someone questions you about your food or tracking choices and you don’t want to continue talking about it with them, one of the best tactics is to acknowledge the question quickly in a positive way, and then change the subject, says Alex Larson, a registered dietitian. Here are a few examples:
- “I’m very proud of making my health and well-being a priority this year, I appreciate you asking. What are you looking forward to most about 2022?”
- “I’m really happy using MyFitnessPal to track my progress. I’ve been meaning to ask how that project at work has been going for you?”
- “I’m working on finding an eating style I can maintain year-round, and MyFitnessPal is helping me document that. What are your kids hoping to get for Christmas?”
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Loved ones have questions about your food tracking at get-togethers? RDs share their tips for explaining via @MyFitnessPal. #MyFitnessPal
Sometimes, friends and family are persistent about you trying a certain dish that may not fit in with your tracking goals. One of the best things you can do in this situation, Cline says, is to compliment the dish, and then postpone the decision. So, that might sound like, “That does look good! I’m enjoying the party/music/energy right now…” or “I’m enjoying my (insert your current food or beverage), but I will consider that later!”
There may be situations when you really just don’t feel like explaining your tracking to others, and that’s OK! In these cases, try planning and logging your meal in advance, if possible, Arsenault suggests. When that’s not an option because you’re not sure what will be offered, take five minutes to track what you ate once your get-together has ended.
Most people won’t bat an eye at food tracking during holiday gatherings. But for those who have questions or who are slightly judgemental, it’s helpful to have some conversation strategies up your sleeve. That way, you can stay firm in your boundaries and do what’s right for you when it comes to eating in a way that makes you feel good during the holidays.