Are Ghost Servings Killing Your Progress?

Are Ghost Servings Killing Your Progress?

I love food.

Like A LOT.

If I could eat all day, I would be the happiest girl in the world. I have never been the girl to order a salad on a dinner date (just ask my hubby) or the girl to leave any food on my plate at the end of a meal. I embrace my love for food fully.

However, it could easily get out of control and has at some points in my life. Food has controlled my emotions, my relationship with the gym and my confidence until I found balance by tracking my macros. I love the food freedom flexible eating brings and it works!

Gaining Weight

I’ve been in a weight gain phase for months. Let’s call it a “massing” phase to sound much cooler. I have gained 10 pounds over the last 4 months and maintained it in an attempt to spend time focusing on my strength, adding size and my personal relationship with the scale versus what I see in the mirror. It has been more amazing than I imagined. But also more difficult to gain weight with intention than I expected.

Ghost Servings

The truth is, I was eating lots of food. Often times because I was trying to gain weight I would find myself taking a few extra bites here, a few extra handfuls there and a huge mental justification for it. I was “massing”…duh!

But gaining or not, that extra food disrupts the consistency I worked so hard to maintain. One bonus indulgence of peanut butter and I had added eight grams of fat to my day.

The truth is those “ghost servings” can seriously kill your progress.

I realized I needed to own up and face the music of my choices. Honesty was calling and I needed to answer.

Here Is Why

Imagine you are at a party with a plethora of tempting food options. You stay close to the grilled chicken skewers and fresh fruit and veggie tray for the most part. Then you decide you’ve got some room for chips and salsa. Soon, the 8 chips you accounted for turns into 24 and you’ve went from consuming 7 grams of fat to 21 grams of fat, a difference of 150 calories in a matter of 10 hot seconds.

The same is true at home. It is so easy to begin to make your kids that Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich they love for lunch with a side of fruit and chips. After you make the sandwich you lick the peanut butter smothered spoon and then take a few bites of each kid’s sandwich to make sure “it’s just right.” And boom…ghost serving sabotage.

Or how about when you scoop out that tablespoon of hummus or nut butter that really is more like a tablespoon and a half but you only account for just a single?

In your heart you know the choice you made, but chose only to record what fits. If what ends up in your stomach doesn’t match what ends up on paper then you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  A few little bites aren’t the the true problem.  Repeated, daily ghost servings could be adding hundreds of additional calories a week and thus killing your calorie deficit for loss.

Self Reflection

Tracking your macros only works if you are honest about what you take in. You can play food Tetris in MyFitnessPal all day long and make it look perfect. At the end of the day though progress doesn’t lie. If you aren’t seeing the changes you expect it is likely that you too need to make a personal call to the doctor of honesty.

I remind my clients often that short term sacrifices bring long-term gain. The purpose of flexible dieting is to give you food freedom but it takes hard work and consistency to see the journey through all the way to the end. Most of all, it requires honesty about the food choices you are really making.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Data doesn’t lie. As a coach, I’ve seen loads of data come in from clients that show me their ghost serving intake is high. They send these perfect diaries on paper but the scale weight and other qualitative feedback just doesn’t match up.

When we truly connect and have that deep moment of self reflection, I can see in one week that progress shift when clients get rid of those ghost servings and dial it in.

All Too Frequent

If you find yourself a victim to ghost servings all too frequently then it could be a great sign that you need to increase your intake. Sometimes if we give ourselves a bit more play on intake, the notion of feeling restricted dissipates and you actually see more progress because you can still work within your macro framework without those ghost servings. Don’t be afraid to eat more to drive results.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel that inner voice of reason start to speak to you, then maybe you need a little push to greater accountability. If you begin to record everything you eat including those ghosts servings you will see the difference in what that intake looks like. You will bring back that momentum of progress and push forward with a greater sense of appreciation for accuracy.

Work Hard Be Kind,


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