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NOBLEEQUESTRIAN SparkPoints: (5,640)
Fitness Minutes: (10,988)
Posts: 247
4/1/13 3:40 P

When i saw a dietitian I wouldn't count calories either. Instead I counted 'grains' 'fruits' 'veggies' protein' and 'dairy'. Basically we decided how many grains, fruits, veggies, protein, fats and dairy I needed a day and simply kept track of that. Generally speaking any kind of grain is about the same amount of calories (per one serving I mean).

For example, if I ate a sandwhich I would have eating 2 grains (for two slices of bread), 1 fat (for mayo), 1 protein (for deli meat), 1 dairy (for one serving of cheese) and 1 veggie (for the vegetables).

Generally a person of normal activity and normal size will need 8grains, 3 veggies, 4-5 fruits, 4 dairy, 4-5 fats, and 2-3 proteins.

MANNPOWER03 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (75)
Posts: 20
4/1/13 2:54 A

I am doing weight watchers and that is easier because they have an app you can use for only $15 a month and they do all the calorie, fiber, carbs, etc. calculating u just count the points which is easier. The scanner they have is a life saver when grocery shopping too! Plus you get all the fruits and veggies you want if you get hungry you can have a snack without feeling guilty. I have lost weight and I still eat fast food on occasion. You can check out some of my recipes and tips etc. on my website.

MICHGIRL61 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (112)
Posts: 5
3/31/13 4:24 P

I'm trying intuitive eating, eating when I'm hungry, stopping when I'm full. Rather than counting calories, I eat nutrient dense meals unril I'm full. For example I make a spinach soup that I eat for lunch. Spinach, carrots, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes and smoked sausage. It only takes about a cup to fill me up. Another one of my meals is a 24 oz. Green smoothie. I mix fruit and veggies, add a few special things, add water and blend till its
drinkable and I drink one these per day. I'm full and feel good knowing how many good, nutritious foods I have consumed. I have good replacements for "bad" snacks and so I don't miss things like candy, cookies, etc. I eat a protein and a veggie of my choice for dinner until I'm full.
My only worry is not eating enough calories, since we are told not eat too few calories. I understand this, but if I'm giving my body good food when its hungry and not overeating so as not to store the extra calories as fat, is it really so wrong. This is my experiment/my alternative to counting calories; the weight loss isn't fast, butI have lost around 6 lbs. and quite a few inches.

Edited by: MICHGIRL61 at: 3/31/2013 (16:27)
LOVEMOUSE82 SparkPoints: (3,788)
Fitness Minutes: (2,976)
Posts: 349
3/30/13 9:49 P

I agree that counting can be cumbersome and even frustrating as well as time consuming. Yes, I agree.

And I got over it.

Because it is important to understand exactly what is going into your body. You may get incredible insights as to what you are really eating and where most of your calories are really coming from. I'm sorry and I know it probably isn't what you want to hear. I offer you consolation and advice by saying this...use the favorites and the groupings. It is extremely helpful and will allow you to start planning ahead your meals. Yes this will still take time, but it will get easier as you get used to it and will take less time as you build up your favorites and groupings.

I know this is frustrating at first, really. But if you are going to do this, do it right. It is not going to help to "guess" at serving size or "approximate" what you think a certain item will add up to be, especially if that item is coming from a restaurant. Count calories. Measure portions. Have your measuring cups and spoons readily available. Start by measuring everything, you may be surprised how much a tablespoon REALLY is or how little a teaspoon REALLY is. Once you get used to it, however, you will be more able to eyeball things more accurately.

And as far as your being anal with wanting to get things down with perfect accuracy, that is exactly what you should be aiming for. Count everything. Even if it is something you don't think has many calories. You will be surprised at how those things you think do t have many calories actually add up throughout the day. If you eat a small bit of mushrooms, count them. If you eat 5 m and ms count them. The only things I don't count are the things that are truly zero calories such as iced tea as long as it doesn't havent lemon or sugar....or coffee- the actual coffee is zero but I count the sugar and milk that goes into it.

And just as you will be able to eyeball things accurately when you by used to it, you will be able to remember calories for certain things after counting for a long enough period of time. But, there is really no need to remember as long as you are making use of your favorites and groupings.

KKKAREN Posts: 12,754
3/28/13 10:58 A

I've heard it's better to count your fibers than your calories!

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
3/28/13 9:28 A

You have to know what is going into your body, calorie-wise. If you make dishes that are your favorites, ethnic, or special, you are going to find it cumbersome to have to examine every preparation and measure everything exactly. But that's how you come up with an accurate count. The count is important.

If you double your physical activity and don't change a single thing about the way you eat, stay exactly at the same portion size and number of meals, and don't add any more food to your daily intake, you will eventually lose weight without counting calories. But that is a LOT of physical activity (you can easily self-sabotage by slowly and almost imperceptibly adding calories to your meals, increasing portion size, etc.)!

If you cut entire food groups out of your diet, you can lose weight, but that will be because you cut calories, too (anyone counting your calories for you in that case will give you the numbers, which will show this) but your life will be one of denial - deny yourself this, deny yourself that, and try to overindulge on permitted things because they are permitted... however, they don't taste as good anymore, so you will eat less of them.

Weight Watchers has some plans that minimize counting, but they don't eliminate it entirely.

It is very very easy for me to reach almost 3,000 calories in one day, just by having lunch out with a friend and then eating normally at home. 3,000 is a lot, double what I aim for when trying to lose weight. Is it important to know how many calories are in that patty melt, then? Yep.

3/28/13 8:11 A

When I first started at Spark I tracked. It was such a learning experience to know how many calories and macronutrients were in the foods I was eating. A real eye opener.

As I slowly transitioned into an unprocessed diet I realized that my need to track disappeared. I put my focus on vegetables, protein and healthy fats these days because when I focus on that everything else takes care of itself.

3/27/13 11:42 P

Since cutting out gluten and sugar, I have an appetite that makes sense. What I mean is that I'm actually eating according to hunger, and I can tell when I am actually hungry. This is new for me.

With that in mind, I'm not counting calories. I just eat according to hunger. I couldn't do that before, because my hunger made no sense. I was always hungry, it seemed. When I first dieted years ago, I just counted calories and kept 'em low. But I couldn't maintain that. I was too hungry. I gained back what I lost and then some. Then I did low carb, which helped with my appetite, but I couldn't keep it up, and I gained all of my weight back, plus some.

Now, I am also trying to *not* eat too few calories, and to include all macronutrients. I want to eat as much as possible and still lose weight. As long as I'm eating mostly real foods, and not junky processed foods, I'm finding that I'm able to satisfy my natural hunger and still lose weight.

Mind you, I'm not setting any records for speed. But my goal is not speed. My goal is permanence. It seems so slow (and torturous), and yet, I know it is exactly what I need right now.

So, no. I'm not counting calories, lol.

Oh yeah, I just want to say that counting calories for some time period is good, if just for educational purposes. It does help to become familiar with the numbers.

LENAJC1 SparkPoints: (99)
Fitness Minutes: (40)
Posts: 17
3/27/13 10:51 P

Thanks for the tips. I've already tried saving favorites or meals but I still find the tracking frustrating and it doesn't help that that I have--to put it in vulgar terms--anal tendencies in wanting to get things as accurate as possible. I find it really time consuming. I'll think I may try RenataRuns suggestions regarding portion control and also try snacking less.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,700
3/26/13 11:55 A

YOJULEZ sums it up nicely. Especially in the beginning you need to track and do it for as long as you need to until it become intuitive.

KARA623 Posts: 727
3/26/13 11:13 A

I personally don't have a problem with tracking. Actually, I've probably become too anal about it, but it works for me.

I believe, though, that our bodies are designed to tell us when to eat and how much and also, to a degree, what to eat. If you treat your body right by fueling it with the right foods and not over-feeding it, then you can trust it to tell you when you to eat. If you're hungry eat. Savor your meal, and don't eat quickly, and your body will also tell you when it's had its fill. If you're craving certain foods: red meat, green veggies, etc., that's often because your body has a deficiency. Our bodies really are amazing if you listen to them.

Intuitive eating takes a lot of discipline, though, but if that works better for you, I think that's great.

IWILLMAKEIT91 SparkPoints: (2,511)
Fitness Minutes: (685)
Posts: 72
3/26/13 10:25 A

thank you for all the tips and ideas

SPORTYLAWGIRL SparkPoints: (11,853)
Fitness Minutes: (18,215)
Posts: 148
3/25/13 7:47 P

Try using the favourites list to make tracking less cumbersome. I find that tracking gets easier with time. Before joining Spark I tracked calories on paper and that was way more time consuming. I like the freedom that tracking gives me to indulge here and there knowing that my weekly and monthly calorie averages are still reasonable. Good luck.

SONICB Posts: 4,375
3/25/13 2:48 P

Tracking calories can be very time-consuming... I did it for years and just got sick of obsessing over the numbers. These days, I try to stick to meals I have already calculated calories for (300-600 calories) and choose from this list for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Some days I'll keep a rough tally of my total calories to +/- 100 calories.

When it comes to eating out, I try not to stress about knowing the exact calorie count. Make healthy choices, or if you really want a burger & fries, maybe pack up half the burger and only eat half the fries.

I personally indulge very often... but that bloated feeling from overeating at the pub usually causes me to want to eat more lightly the next day or two. My weight has remained more or less stable this way.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
3/25/13 2:19 P

I've been using portion control. For example, we have a set of bowls -- when I eat a meal in one of them I know to fill them only 1/2 to 2/3 full (I often top off with lettuce). Cereal is about a cup (two "handfuls" the first time I measured it out). If I eat on a plate, I use one of our smaller ones and can then fill it up.

Most of what we eat is similar enough to everything else in terms of calories per volume that this method has yet to lead me astray. No meat or other unexpected calorie bombs to have to be really finicky about. (I do check calories on new food items or things I'm uncertain about, but once done a single time, that's it.) Since we eat outside the house only once every couple of weeks, I don't worry too much about variations on those days, just try to keep it reasonable. I don't do snack foods on a regular basis outside teh "one square of chocolate" range, so I don't have to worry about those either. And except for the occasional coffee or tea with milk, (or wine at a special meal), I only drink water.

For many reasons, this method is much more comfortable for me than counting/tracking everything would be, and it's very easy -- almost automatic now -- for me to stick to. I wouldn't expect everyone to find it suitable, but it's working really well for me.

SLASALLE SparkPoints: (265,080)
Fitness Minutes: (100,701)
Posts: 11,575
3/25/13 2:16 P

I also do most of my own cooking from scratch.

I also log my food and count calories. But I've got it down to a fine art by using Favorites (BIG TIME), Groupings and Recipes. It does take some time initially as you sort out all of your favorites, your typical groups, etc., but cuts down considerable time for the long haul.

I actually checked this out long ago and I spend approximately 15 minutes daily logging my food in. To me, it's a very worthwhile time commitment.

Now, does that mean I count calories EVERY day? Of course not. I go on vacation and get too busy sometimes. But I find the more I use the tracker, the easier it gets to figure it out when I don't have the time. With that said, I probably track 85-90% of the time!

I hope these ideas help!!

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
3/25/13 2:15 P

I cook almost everything from scratch, including ethnic foods, and also use the recipe builder to do that. I also use the copy function in the tracker extensively. I keep logs in my recipes as to when I made something, so even if I last made it 4 months ago, I can go back to that day in the tracker, and copy the entire meal over to the day I want it on. Or since the recipe builder saves them, I can add it that way. That helps save a ton of time.

Also, tracking gets so much easier the longer you do it. It IS cumbersome at first, especially when you don't rely on packaged foods that much. But once you get your own little supply of manually entered foods and favorites going, it becomes much easier. I cook new recipes at least 2-3 times a week and now that I've done it so many times, entering new ones in the builder takes only a couple minutes. I also track ahead of time, and that combined with meal planning, it really does save a lot of time. I spend about 30-60 minutes on Mondays planning my following week's meals. At that time I go in and build the recipes I need, etc. The tracker only lets you put in things a week in advance so throughout the week I go to the next available date the following week and fill it in with the stuff I've already done in the recipe builder or that I have saved already. That way I'm not having to figure stuff out on the fly on the day of. Also it helps that my breakfast and snacks stay pretty much the same, so I can just copy them over to the next day. Tracking each day takes me about 1-2 minutes if I spend the time in advance to plan it out. Plus planning ahead helps keep me on track.

After you track awhile, you really do get used to how much something is. Like I know tons of calorie counts for certain things off the top of my head (1 cup of rice? 200ish calories. 3oz carrots? 35 calories, 1tbsp olive oil, 120ish calories etc). Having that knowledge also helps me to pick recipes that are doable for my calorie allotment.

I don't think I know anybody who has lost weight and kept it off without tracking something... points, calories, carbs, protein, whatever.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 3/25/2013 (14:18)
BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
3/25/13 2:14 P

"where the amounts shown for any item varies wildly"

To deal with this - where possible, I go with entries that allow me to choose by weight (gram, ounce); if there isn't one, I'll go with an entry that allows me to choose volume (tbsp, cup). Only as a last resort will I choose an entry that is for "one serving" unless the serving size is very clearly defined.

Basic groceries are easy enough to sort out - but "restaurant food" can be a real challenge. Sure some big chains post nutritional information online, but independent restaurants (where I prefer to eat) typically do not. When I really just don't know, I'll pick a middle-of-the-road entry.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
3/25/13 2:05 P

I count calories - but sometimes you only have to count them "once" (i.e. by creating your recipe in SparkRecipes, or by creating a "grouping" in your nutrition tracker, you can just add servings or groupings of favorite foods and recipes very easily after the initial entry work has been done).

I used to count "points" with Weight Watchers - it's a little less cumbersome than working things out to the very last calorie.

I don't do very well when I don't count *something.*

ELENGIL Posts: 957
3/25/13 2:03 P

I make most of my meals from scratch as well, and use the 'group' and 'recipe' functions of the nutrition tracker to help. Otherwise I just list all the ingredients I put in whatever dish I'm making (as I usually only make single servings) and that really helps.

When I don't have access to the nutrition tracker, I just try to pay attention to what I'm having and how much. Because I usually track, I'm getting a better idea of how 'much' certain foods tend to be and focus on having a good balance of vegetables to lean meats and whole grains.

Except for skip days (like my birthday) where I don't care, because it's my birthday and dammit, I'm going to eat cake!


LENAJC1 SparkPoints: (99)
Fitness Minutes: (40)
Posts: 17
3/25/13 1:57 P

I just wanted to get other folks take on what they do to watch their food intake if they don't track their calories. I know that that's a big part of this website. But I find counting calories incredibly cumbersome expecially since I usually make my meals from scratch or if I eat certain ethnic foods. I also had experience on other calorie counting websites where the amounts shown for any item varies wildly. Just curious to see what others do. Thanks.

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