I go in spurts of tracking my macros 100% to loosely tracking to intuitively eating. Right now I’m going through a cut so I’m tracking my macros 5-7 days a week. I know not everyone tracks which is completely okay! You definitely don’t need to track in order to see progress but you do need some knowledge around food to use portion control at each meal timing.
These are tips I use with my clients who don’t track so they aren’t completely under/over eating!
Stick to specific meal times: If you’re someone who has tracked in the past or just has good understanding of food, you might already have this part down. But so many people snack throughout the day on small things and those calories add up big time! I strongly encourage all my clients to have specific times (or a range of an hour) for 4-5 meals a day. This is going to ensure that your body is digesting all the food you have and keep you on a schedule. This will decrease the amount of snacking you’re doing and be ready for each meal.
Palm, fist, fist: This is a tool I learned about in my latest certification (Precision Nutrition) and I’m sure you can google it and read more in depth about it…but essentially at each meal you want to have a palm sized portion of protein, fist sized portion of carbs and another of veggies. I’d switch one or 2 of those fists for veggies with some fruit though. The only problem with this is that a lot of times we don’t have a strict protein/carb/veggie meal and it’s all mixed together. I’d just do your best with it though and adjust where you need to! This is great, especially the protein part if you’re not tracking!
Eat more whole foods: It’s super easy to grab the chips, cereal, frozen meals, etc. because they’re quick and easy. However, those calories add up really fast! If you’re looking to just find a better balance with overall health, I’d focus a ton on eating more whole foods. I personally feel best when I do this and you will get full quicker because you’re eating nutrient dense food (less calories for more food).
Eat slowly and mindfully: Another common thing I find is people eat without thinking. They get caught up in a show and the next thing you know it’s been 25 minutes and the whole bag of popcorn is gone! For digestion and portion control, it’s really important to eat slowly and mindfully. Put your fork down between bites, take a few bites, talk a little bit, etc. this is going to help your body digest the food and cue you when it’s full. If you shovel the food in, by the time your body tells you you’re full, you’re uncomfortably full and hate that you feel like you gained 20 pounds during that meal. Take your time to eat and stop when you get about 80% full.
Look at the labels: Obviously not everything has labels but if it does, still look at what you’re putting in your body. Just because you’re not tracking, doesn’t mean those calories and macros don’t count. Still aim for 120+ grams of protein per day (for most females depending on your size). You can still look at the package and see what the calories are or how much the serving is and guesstimate off that. I’m super guilty of not looking at this when I am not tracking for a day or 2, like if I don’t look those calories don’t count right?! Nope. If only it worked like that!
At the end of the day, you can still be super mindful of what you’re putting in your body without nitpicking the exact calories. I highly suggest anyone who wants to intuitively eat to track first. You learn SO much about the foods you’re eating when you track and it can be an awesome tool for even just a little bit to understand these portions a little better and see exactly what that 2 TBSP of peanut butter looks like on your toast!