A Dietitian Former College Athlete’s Experience Using TRACK
Claire Haft, MS, RDN | Nutrigility
If you’ve ever tracked the food you eat, you know that there are many different elements to consider. After using other tracking apps in the past, I’m happy to share my experience with TRACK and key elements that have stood out to separate it from others. It has provided insights I never expected to see with a food tracking tool.
My Background with Tracking My Food
My years of high school sports were interspersed with periods of injuries – some from impact, and some I’d safely assume from not consuming enough for the demands of my exercise. When I began playing at the collegiate level, I knew I had to pay more attention to what I was putting into my body. I was also on the path to become a Registered Dietitian, and had (and still have) a passion for understanding how the foods we eat impact performance and the way we feel.
I explored different tracking tools in college and have used them over the years with clients. While a lot of the tools were easy to use, I found myself getting frustrated with the discrepancies with the information and didn’t trust many of the nutrient values since some were crowdsourced (anyone could add the values). Plus, there was little to no guidance with specific targets for my nutrients, and they didn’t have data on valuable vitamins and minerals.
If I was spending the time to put all of my food into a system (which does take a reasonable amount of time in the day!), I wanted to make sure that it gave me an accurate picture of any gaps I needed to fill. I wasn’t confident that any were providing that.
How TRACK Through MyMenu Concierge is Different
When I started using MyMenu’s TRACK component, I was impressed with the database and the ease of use with Cronometer, as well as how trustworthy it is. None of the values are inputted by individual users. It provides overviews of both macronutrients and micronutrients so that you have a good representation and idea of the nutrients you need to focus on incorporating more. Plus, they even suggest the foods that are good sources of these nutrients so that you know where to start.
With the extensive proprietary MyMenu restaurant database, I can also add a customized restaurant meal to TRACK with a click of a button. This ease of use makes it less daunting to track food while dining out, especially because I’m never sure how certain food was prepared, the oil used, etc.
Since I always have my phone on me, I have primarily used TRACK through my phone. After logging into MyMenu for the first time and clicking on TRACK, I can now quickly go straight to the Cronometer app on my phone to log my food intake.
My Experience and Insights Using TRACK
I don’t religiously track what I eat, but it is a valuable tool to use when I want to make sure that I’m getting enough protein or specific nutrients.
There are a several main elements that I’ve noticed and appreciate while using the app:
There are SO many different elements that you can customize on the platform depending on what you want to see when tracking meals and how detailed you want to get. It was helpful to set meal categories (breakfast, lunch, lunch 2, dinner, snack).
You can choose specific daily nutrient targets for macros and micros. It allows you to calculate your input values given by a dietitian or choose preset options.
It shows progress throughout the day, so I can quickly see on my tracking overview what I need to focus on in my next meal/snack to meet my targets.
I can see trends for macronutrients or micronutrients that I’m not getting enough of. Certain days I noticed that I needed more protein as I went through the day, so I paid more attention to that and incorporated higher protein options at meals and snacks. I also noticed that I wasn’t meeting my targets for B12 and omega-3s, so I’ve paid even more attention to those over time.
Foods I commonly log appear under the search bar for ease of use.
It’s straightforward to add a recipe (like my daily morning smoothie) so that I can add that to my breakfast tracking without inputting the exact ingredients every day over and over again. I can type the recipe's name in, and it will appear as an item to select.
I can search for an item, select it, and search for additional items before adding them to the meal I’m tracking.
I can easily scan items instead of typing them in.
Adding foods from restaurant menus with the TRACK button saves so much time and frustration!
Another thing I was impressed with is how quickly Cronometer adds requested foods to their database. I ate a branded food item that wasn’t in the Cronometer database, so I took the requested pictures and sent them in through the app. It was only a matter of a day or two before I received an email that the item was in their database!
While I don’t track my food intake every day, it is extremely valuable to have this tool to evaluate a few days of eating and to get an idea of what I may be missing. When I start training for an event or have a new fitness goal, I know TRACK will help me reach my targets. With a bit of time spent getting used to the platform, it becomes highly intuitive and invaluable for anyone looking to stay on track with health goals, weight loss, eating for a specific health condition, and more.
Claire Haft, MS, RDN, and founder of Nutrigility, is a Registered Dietitian who works with businesses and other dietitians to develop nutrition content for many different audiences.