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Phantom Servings Were Sabotaging My Diet

Mark Springer

September 6, 2017


Sometimes in life, we like to take a moment to stretch – no, I’m not talking about hamstrings or calves, I’m talking about THE TRUTH.

And when it comes to recording what you eat, phantom servings can derail your diet… and fast!

We do this all of the time for one little reason or another, usually to make us feel better about ourselves. We might exaggerate our incomes to a stranger, fudge our height and weight at the DMV, or add a few skills to our job resumes, but this doesn’t change reality. And unfortunately, this applies to flexible dieting just as it does any area of life.

You see, I love following the flexible dieting approach and tracking my macros, and it really works…But there is one small catch–you have to be honest about what you log.

cheeseburger and fries

30g of carbs? I don’t think so.

For the last few weeks, my body wasn’t responding as expected to the macros I tracked. At each day’s end, after falling within a few grams of my macros, I would lie in bed and proudly think to myself, “Mark Springer, master of the macros…” But the next morning when I looked in the mirror and saw no changes and then stepped on the scale to see the digitized truth, I realized I was doing something terribly wrong.

After some soul searching, reality checks, and tear-soaked bags of tortilla chips, I came clean to myself. I wasn’t writing down all of the food I’d been eating. I’d just been writing down things that made me feel good – the things I should be eating – and blissfully finding ways to ignore what I was actually eating! These phantom servings were completely sabotaging my diet.

“I’d just been writing down things that made me feel good”

My major problem is that I like food – a lot. As evidence, I’ll treat this as a trip to the dietary confessional booth and share my experience with “Popcorners,” a heavenly substance that is the perfect blend of crunchy, salty, sweet corn goodness. One serving is exactly 14 chips, and the macros for it really aren’t that bad at 2g protein, 3.5g fat, and 21g carbs…but remember, that’s stopping at an honest 14 chips. I have to admit that under their influence, I’d sometimes put a chip or two in my mouth and add one to that bite. Since it was in that same bout of chewing, I wouldn’t count it as another chip. It was still that same overwhelming sense of food joy so why count it as extra? After I swallowed my guilt and started on a fresh handful…uh “one” chip(s), I would then count that towards the ultimate 14, which in reality turns into 20…or so.

Clearly, my dishonest love affair with “Popcorners” and other delicious cheats was throwing off my macros. The phantom servings that I wasn’t accounting for in my log were being accounted for in my gut, which wasn’t going away like it should have been. As much as I wish I could be like the banner ads and “trick” my body with a “six-pack shortcut,” it turns out that my digestive system was much more objective than my brain.

Tip: These hidden calories might be hurting your diet

Sticking with the honesty theme, I’ll say that just writing this has been a healing experience! The truth is, to get the things we want in life we have to make sacrifices. Pretending to make sacrifices and telling ourselves that we’re awesome just doesn’t cut it. If you’re going to have that butter or those extra 28 chips, go ahead and log it. Trust me, when you see how bad you’re blowing your numbers by the bonus indulgences, you will be much more hesitant to “sneak” that extra food in the future.

Be honest, log everything, don’t lie to yourself, and you will see that the results will find their way back home. Please come home six-pack, we miss you.

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