You FAIL...Even Though You're Ahead
Right, well, I have a certain nit-pick with the Myfitnesspal approach to lauding our efforts at reaching our daily caloric goal. Personally, I think that weight loss is best when it's gradual. We can suddenly start doing one legged Romanian dead lifts, running miles, counting our calories within a painful "calorie deficit," but what happens after a few months of all that boot-campy work? Yeah, it can be "sustainable," but the odds are not in our favor without making these changes gradually, and it is for that reason I cannot stand the blaring RED numbers that Myfitnesspal.com shoves into our eye sockets when we don't reach our calorie deficit goals.
Listen, if you need to consume 2200 calories a day to maintain your current weight, and you eat 2100 calories, you're on the right track! You're not in the fast lane or anything, but hey, you're there--running. Well, maybe you're jogging or quickly walking, but you weren't even on the track before, so YAYS for being in the game.
Furthermore, many of us have inched ourselves into obesity, which is actually a symptom of somthing bigger: metabolic syndrome. That means it's highly likely that you're eating more than you should to maintain your current weight (at least before you started clocking your bites on this site). So that 100 calorie deficit is more important to you than you realize.
So, why does Myfitnesspal.com give you congratulations for eating even fewer calories than your deficit goal, but regardless of whether you ate one calorie over your budgeted deficit, it decalres, in failure-red font, that you have a negative number of calories remaining for the day. I get that you have a deficit goal and that in order to reach that goal, you've garnered yourself a negative number of calories remaining, but I don't get the big ugly red font. It makes it look like you've failed, despite the fact that your body wanted you to consume 499 more calories (if not more) than you actually ate.
I propose that if you eat less than what you need to maintain your current weight, but more than your deficit goal, the numbers should be orange. AND, the automatic status update should say, "MFPuser completed her food and exercise diary for today and has maintained a calorie deficit."
I find the function of this to be concerning in that it could potentially perpetuate or instigate probable eating issues. Firstly, I've seen many posts from folks who feel frustrated and angry that they "went over" their goals. Many of these people still had a calorie deficit. That frustration, the one where you feel like you just aren't cut out for it, is the kind of frustration that can push people toward giving up.
Some people have very low calorie goals. I have no idea if these people are short, older, have doctor-prescribed diets, or what, but they are striving for 1100 to 1200 calories a day. If they need to eat a much higher calorie amount to maintain their current weight, then "blowing" their goal could potentially tip some of these folks into eating disorders. This site works kind of like a game: we want to win. People with a desire to be in complete control will try to adjust by under-eating if they feel they have "failed," when in fact, they didn't fail. They just had a mediocre day. Obviously, this kind of feature won't affect everyone or even most people. I could affect a few, but a few is far too many.
On a side note, yeah, check my food diary. I'm way over my calorie goal. One step at a time, right?