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JMAEYOYO SparkPoints: (693)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 13
8/14/14 10:31 A

This does make sense: Just came back to Spark, of course I gained some weight whenever I stop tracking my food. I never used the ''Groupings" tab. seeing the error of my ways, right now. Your thinking has changed mine.

HMBROWN1 Posts: 15,845
8/11/14 11:12 P

I work same as you CMCDONNNA - most stuff is already in there. If it is something with a barcode, you can scan it with the mobile app. Quick and easy.

GERRTIE SparkPoints: (56,954)
Fitness Minutes: (33,557)
Posts: 2,496
8/11/14 7:23 P

I count my calories like it's my religion. I have since 2008. I am super honest about it with myself. Which means I have to face the consequences when I mess up, which has happened a lot recently. Consequence: weight gain. I'm trying to get back on track and lose 15 lbs.

CMCDONNA SparkPoints: (22,255)
Fitness Minutes: (16,381)
Posts: 169
8/11/14 5:49 P

I use recipe builder on spark when it's something I am relatively sure I will make over and over again. Otherwise, I just estimate using ingredients or what other people have entered. Like some others, I use groupings a lot. (like "morning coffee" is coffee, sugar free creamer, and sugar).

As far as the "tracking calories" debate, everyone has to find what works best for them. There are times when I've just gotten to the point where I just CANNOT stand to track another thing! But...I only lose weight when I track. Seriously, even though I know healthy foods, I just don't estimate correctly. So "for me", tracking is necessary, although I do take days off here and there. That fact has frustrated me, because I don't feel it's "normal" to have to track calories for the rest of my life, but then again, when I get to goal, I may not have to. I happen to be very good at maintenance lol.

ROBBIEY SparkPoints: (397,626)
Fitness Minutes: (132,495)
Posts: 12,118
8/11/14 10:28 A

When it come to counting calories of the foods I prepare, I don't sweat it. I too do what FLORADITA does, I find something similar and go with the highest caloric range and how I feel after I have eaten the meal. It takes too much time to try and figure exactly how many calories are in homemade meals.

OSSIE-SHARON SparkPoints: (144)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 43
8/11/14 10:19 A

CRAMPERELLA, I totally agree with you. Getting a sense (and reminder once in a while) of portions sizes is important, but any tracking needs to focus on the big picture and not enable any type of "worrying" actions (aka "obessing") - not sustainable for a happy life. Letting positive dietary changes become second nature is the way to go :) :)

SECONDCHANCE58 SparkPoints: (21,210)
Fitness Minutes: (8,589)
Posts: 176
8/11/14 10:07 A

Hey noticed that you bought a spark activity tracker. How is it working out. Easy to use?
Been thinking of buying one but would like some honest feedback on likes and dislikes.

SECONDCHANCE58 SparkPoints: (21,210)
Fitness Minutes: (8,589)
Posts: 176
8/11/14 9:52 A

Love your reward List. I just achieved 32 pound loss. I need to make one and put on fridge.

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (192,809)
Fitness Minutes: (251,775)
Posts: 2,243
8/10/14 12:54 P

I entered a lot of recipes into SP Recipes & kept them in my Recipe Box--then I just add them to the tracker if I think they're close to what I'm eating.

I found it was easier to lose weight & keep it off if I ate the same foods over & over. When I start getting "creative" in the kitchen & adding a lot of variety, I gain weight. Once a food addict, always a food addict.... :)

So I don't really track calories anymore--when you eat the same fruits, veggies, salads & lean meats every single day, you know you're getting about 800 calories a day, or 1,000 calories a day, etc.

RSNAPE Posts: 8
8/8/14 4:46 A

That is a really good tip, WISHICOULDFLY. I am going to try using groupings instead of the recipe tracker, as I cook a bit randomly and no two meals are the same. Which means I have been using the recipe tracker every single meal, very time consuming! I had never thought of using groupings! Thanks!

JO88BAKO SparkPoints: (311,806)
Fitness Minutes: (170,517)
Posts: 16,208
8/6/14 8:37 P

SP have a good tracker

8/6/14 7:14 P

I do a lot of cooking and I rarely use a recipe because I add whatever I have on hand that I think will go together, BUT I have figured out an easy way to track exactly what I am eating. I use the "Groupings" tab in the nutrition tracker. I added a "meal" in my tracker labeled "Working Food Group". I add my ingredients to this and then I save it as a grouping with a name like "08.01 Pasta & Veggies, .5 = 1 serving" (like tonight, I make enough for 2 servings, half for me and half for hubby). Then I remove all the foods from my "Working Food Group" on my tracker, add .5 of the Grouping named "08.01 Pasta & Veggies, .5 = 1 serving" to my dinner and I am set.

When I make chili, I do the same thing. I'll divide the batch up into 10 containers and freeze some. I name it something like "08.03 Chili - .1 = freezer container", Then when I take the chili a couple weeks later for lunch, I add .1 of the recipe into my tracker. Make sense? A lot of times when I make something for dinner, I cook enough to divide into 5 servings (2 for hubby and I for dinner, 1 for lunch the next day and 2 to freeze) and I note that .2 = 1 serving.

The easy thing about doing it this way is that you can Edit Groupings! You can go back to your Grouping later and adjust the amount of ingredients, add new ones, delete some, etc. and then rename with a new date. That's one of the things I do not like about using the recipe calculator: you cannot adjust amounts. You have to delete the ingredient and add it in again in the amount you want.

Make sense? I hope this helps.

Edited by: WISHICOULDFLY at: 8/6/2014 (19:16)
TIFFFIT Posts: 1,765
8/6/14 12:48 A

To actually answer your question, rather than berate you for asking it or tell you you're doing it wrong... sigh...
I work backwards. Most of the time, I use SparkRecipes to calculate the nutritional value of a dish I've made in the past; I have a pretty good feeling about how much it's going to make. Then I try different numbers of servings (reasonably, of course) to determine how large a serving I should consume. For example, I make a crock-pot full of southwestern chicken and have learned that if I divide that by four the calorie load is much higher than I'd like but when divided by six it's more reasonable. Then I just divide the recipe's outcome into roughly six servings (some of which go right into the fridge) and Voila! It's helped me lost about 40 pounds so far...
I hope that's not an oversimplification but it's been working for me. Good Luck!

AZCAROLE Posts: 1,070
8/5/14 8:42 P

I believe food tracking and calorie counting is an essential part of any healthy plan. Portion size is a big thing to learn, as well as eating a good balance of healthy food.

REBECCA7436 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,378)
Posts: 341
8/5/14 8:44 A

I agree with a 100%, I track on and off I also get the mind set of whatever I don't need to do this, but I do and it does keep me in check I still have to lose weight and I know with tracking it makes me really see what I am eating and how easy it is to go over the calories. I ask myself why am I playing head games with myself just do it already. We accomplish so much in our lives but for some reason the weight and exercise takes a back seat.

EMPRESSAMQ Posts: 5,077
8/4/14 12:29 P

For me, whenever I have gotten into the mindset that I no longer needed to track calories because of my experience, success or whatever reason I've decided I didn't need to do it, that's an excuse I use because part of me believes I am doomed to failure anyway and because I just want to eat what I want when I want and pretend I am in control.

When that happens, the inevitable weight creep begins. I'm not talking five pounds here and there, I'm talking about a creep upwards that threatens to become a major weight gain if I don't pay attention and start tracking calories again.

I didn't get to this successful point in my weight management journey to ever even contemplate going back up to the beginning again.

But I am experienced enough to know that it can happen and, for me, probably WILL happen if I get complacent and start thinking I don't need to count calories.

There's an old saying about dancing with the person who brought you to the party. Calorie counting brought me to this current maintenance party & I'm dancing with that.

JLAMING263 Posts: 4,706
8/4/14 10:34 A

"tracking" them emoticon

K80DALY Posts: 439
8/4/14 10:19 A

I think counting calories is an important first step in everyone's weight loss journey. It gives us a reality check of exactly how much we're actually consuming. By counting calories, you learn what foods you can eat lots of (veggies, lean proteins), what foods to minimize, and get an accurate picture of serving size. Having said that, I think there comes a time in the journey when you can start to rely on your experience, the knowledge you've gained, and just eat what you know to be healthy rather than counting and measuring everything.

CRAMPERELLA Posts: 1,545
8/3/14 7:04 P

95% of people who lose weight by counting calories will regain it, so why do it again? I gave up counting calories and restrictive dieting and have lost 50lbs in the last two years. I stopped relying on externals such as counting calories and listening to everyone else's weight loss chatter and started listening to my body. By learning to trust my body, I have been able to develop a much saner relationship to food. Learning to eat mindfully is a better long term strategy I think.

8/3/14 12:10 A

do i really have to count calories?

SCREAMY19 SparkPoints: (19)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 1
8/1/14 6:57 P

After my open heart surgery, I tracked,measured,counted, weighed and recorded everything that went into my mouth into a notebook. I based a 1500 calorie diet and converted it to a diabetic diet.
I know at first it seemed very tedious, but after a while I learned how to vary my diet. I also had to measure my low salt, low fat, low carbs, low red meat. After 6 months, I lost 40 lbs and felt great. Also I had to eliminate most sweets from my diet. I am in stage 3 kidney failure so this is vitally important that I can find a way to boost my kidneys with diet too. I have a good life, not wealthy, but happy with great friends and family.

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (192,809)
Fitness Minutes: (251,775)
Posts: 2,243
8/1/14 1:46 P

My last journey of weight loss I counted & tallied & marked down everything...and I lost weight very very slowly--it worked so I worked it. ;)

This time, I've pushed harder for a fast & furious loss--33 lbs in just 15 weeks! And no more counting. I know what's healthy & what's not. I know what I should eat & shouldn't.

So this time I've tried hard to eat less every single day, every single meal, every single snack time. If I can keep myself from putting food in my mouth I do it. I chew a TON of gum. I drink a TON of water. And I eat as little as humanly possible.

LOTS of fruits & salads. LOTS of lean protein--fish of all kind, egg whites, chicken, etc. LITTLE processed white stuff--no pasta, little rice, no bread. Oatmeal, fat-free milk, anything that comes from a garden and isn't chemically changed or processed...and servings that are teeny tiny.

And I feel FANTASTIC! Energized, powerful, successful. Whatever works for YOU--work it & work it hard! And ENJOY every moment of success... :)

EMPRESSAMQ Posts: 5,077
8/1/14 9:39 A

OP: There are a lot of calorie counting sites that have recipe calculators such as you mention you would like to have, including Spark.

Spark's companion recipe site that someone down thread gave you the link for is great and very accurate.

You can also just take a pencil and paper and as you are cooking, write down the ingredients and calories you are using for the whole recipe and then divide it by the number of servings.

ANNILLY Posts: 100
8/1/14 9:07 A

I really like the spark recipe calculator, although it does take some effort to enter in the recipe. Knowing the size of your cookware does help with that, though. I've also found that cooking parts of a recipe separately (meat, starch and vegetable) and combining them at the table makes tracking easier and allows me to customize my portions a little better.

MARKATSPARK Posts: 5,869
8/1/14 8:26 A


AKIMBERLYQ1 Posts: 3,278
8/1/14 8:23 A

emoticon invest in a cookbook that has the calories already calculated.

SUGAR0814 Posts: 5,462
8/1/14 12:48 A

I use the recipe builder on SP.

FIT_MOMMY_OF2 SparkPoints: (4,196)
Fitness Minutes: (1,012)
Posts: 138
8/1/14 12:18 A

Yes, just finding a few meals to go between really helps. I have an asparagus with red potato meal that I go to often and it is easier to count everything.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,700
7/31/14 2:11 P

What TRIPLEMWF said. I'm sure you, like most people, don't cook that many variety of dishes so do one each week or every couple of days and within a short period of time you should have you regular rotation of meals in the recipe planner.

7/29/14 9:01 P

I also find it very time consuming to write out my recipe and figure out the calories and serving size. I find breakfast and lunch easier to track as I track the foods I eat. Tracking dinner from recipes is more complex. Wish it was an easier process.

UMBILICAL Posts: 12,786
7/28/14 8:59 P


JEFFGIRL Posts: 11,149
7/28/14 6:10 P

I used to be very good at that, but recently not so and it shows.

DAVIDCOOLEY1 SparkPoints: (18,349)
Fitness Minutes: (14,802)
Posts: 549
7/28/14 4:14 P

It's 4:13 pm, ready for the big finish? This is where we really earn our stripes!

I have 600-900 calories to go. Been good, gotta stay good.

To all of you I lift a nice full glass of water and toast our continued success!

SHERYLDS Posts: 17,318
7/28/14 4:04 P

For me, the nutrition tracker help me plan what I think I'm going to eat so that I can see how good my food choices will be and what the calorie estimate will be. Having done this for a while now I am more aware of what serving sizes look makes me accountable. I also like being programmed to want to know what my carb/fat/sodium estimates are going to be, so that I can make the better choices. Learning to choose a great meal at half the calories and feeling good about myself afterwards is worth the little extra effort. I've spent a lifetime eating foods that were far too rich and salty and gave me indigestion...

ETHELMERZ Posts: 19,283
7/28/14 3:32 P

When I make a big pot of something, I figure one serving is a cup and a half, just eat that, no matter what kind of hot dish it is, add a salad or veggie to that, and it doesn't cause a weight gain. I petered out on writing down every little thing and worrying about the calories, especially since I have a chronically ill husband to feed and worry about. It's lifetime anyway, so one day you eat some soup or casserole that has more cheese or something in it, but next time it will be a stew loaded with veggies, I quit worrying about every little thing.

FITTEREVERYDAY SparkPoints: (28,616)
Fitness Minutes: (18,443)
Posts: 2,015
7/28/14 1:36 P

I make most of what I eat so I use the recipe builder here and to be honest I don't sweat it too much. I eat much healthier cooking for myself and I make sure to bulk up my recipes with veggies.

REDGIRL54 Posts: 255
7/28/14 11:58 A

It takes time and commitment to track everything. It is just part of my daily routine now. In the beginning I did not weigh or measure anything, now I just make it a habit. Even if I do not have time to do it online immediately after I eat, journalling helps to make it easier when I have the time later. That way, I don't forget what I actually ate!


Edited by: REDGIRL54 at: 7/28/2014 (11:59)
MAMA2FOURKIDDOS SparkPoints: (15,575)
Fitness Minutes: (7,524)
Posts: 917
7/27/14 5:21 P

Step one -- get rid of the "train" or "wagon" or whatever mentality. When you have that mindset, it ends up being an on again and off again mindset.

Step two -- if counting calories is not sustainable or too much work for you, don't do it. Abide by hunger and satiety signals.

Step three -- sounds like you're eating foods that you make at home -- that is FANTASTIC!!!!!! Eating foods closer to nature or made form scratch over microwave dinners is much better.

Step four -- chill out and enjoy!

KDYLOSE Posts: 1,619
7/26/14 9:52 A

This is an issue for me too, because when I cook I like to improvise. I get caught up in the creative process, throwing in this and that and not measuring. I don't seem to be willing to change the way I cook, so my solution is to find a comparable food on the tracker and estimate on the high side. If you do this on your big pots of food, and continue to weigh and measure simpler foods, you'll still lose weight. It's a little less comfortable than knowing exactly to the gram how many calories you ate each day, but it still works if you are being honest with all your other meals and snacks.

But if it's making you uncomfortable to the point where it's messing with your program, then by all means I would use the recipe builder and analyze your recipes to get an exact count.

JO88BAKO SparkPoints: (311,806)
Fitness Minutes: (170,517)
Posts: 16,208
7/25/14 8:17 P

measure and journal

7/25/14 7:09 P

I have my favorite pot. 1 inch from the top it holds 8 quarts. Enter all ingredients into receipe builder, then 4 cups in a quart. I know I have 32 cups. I do freeze several.

AEO_SUNSHINE SparkPoints: (116,256)
Fitness Minutes: (63,042)
Posts: 723
7/25/14 1:31 P

I do the same as FLORADITA - and although I have not lost a lot of weight, I am eating more healthy foods (fruits and veggies) and more appropriate portions (especially protiens). I do tend to weigh items as I have found I misjudge portion size. My downfall is in the snack category and am being a lot more diligent in getting accurate calories for this food category - but also trying to do healthier, lower calorie snacks. Better still - no snacking!

FLORADITA SparkPoints: (63,888)
Fitness Minutes: (41,058)
Posts: 541
7/24/14 6:51 P

I have to admit I am much lazier than the other posters and I tend to do a simple search and chose the meal that best represents what I am eating. I check out a few of the offerings and pick a calorie count that leans to the higher range just to be on the safe side. I know it is not perfect and not accurate but I am still losing weight and spares me the chore of having to figure out each recipe to the exact calorie. I am focused more on a healthy lifestyle and know I have to be able to eat this way over the long term so I eat pretty clean and simple for most of my meals. I think if I got too focused on the calorie count of everything I put in my mouth I would give up due to the amount of effort it would take. I am fairly disciplined and I work to eat within a calorie range and I am sure I stay within range. I am not one to give myself a lot of slack and more likely overestimate how much I have eaten rather underestimate. Not everyone can do it this way so you must find what works best for you. I have lost 60 pounds and hope to lose another 20 pounds through a healthy diet and lifestyle, calorie counting to the exact calorie is not for me.

Edited by: FLORADITA at: 7/24/2014 (18:53)
BARBARALEEFREY SparkPoints: (256)
Fitness Minutes: (30)
Posts: 15
7/24/14 12:29 P

Thanks for the tips, I guess there is just no easy way to do this, anything worthwhile it seems to take at least a little effort :)

MIAMEOWS SparkPoints: (5,524)
Fitness Minutes: (11,553)
Posts: 187
7/24/14 12:02 P

I do pretty much the same as TRIPLEMWF! Once my pot of soup or chili or stew is made I use my one cup measuring cup and spoon out the servings into another dish to count them. Then just divide the total and you know how much for each cup. Since I usually freeze at least half of what I make - I spoon, say, two cups into my bowl, two cups into my roommates bowl and divide the rest into two tupperwares. So you're not even wasting dishes or time when you're doing it (just remember to label the ones you freeze!)

As I am preparing the ingredients I am entering each one into the recipe builder - at this point it's just a part of the cooking process, so it doesn't seem tedious.

TRIPLEMWF Posts: 906
7/24/14 11:06 A

It can be tedious in the beginning, but eventually, if you utilize the Recipe Builder on here you'll have them all figured out and saved.

Taking your chili for example. I always make my chili the same way, but never knew how much would be in a one cup serving. So, one day, I made a batch of chili as usual and as I went, I added the ingredients to the Recipe Builder. When the chili was done, I then grabbed my measuring cup and figured out exactly how many 1c servings were in that pot. I was then able to add that final number to the Recipe Builder and get the NI per 1c serving. Like I said, a bit tedious the first time out, but now that it's done, now every time I make my chili it's easy peasy to add it in to my tracker.

AKIMBERLYQ1 Posts: 3,278
7/24/14 10:54 A

Have you tried the recipe maker here on spark? it is awesome

Edited by: AKIMBERLYQ1 at: 7/24/2014 (10:56)
BARBARALEEFREY SparkPoints: (256)
Fitness Minutes: (30)
Posts: 15
7/24/14 9:17 A

My story is far from unique, my weight has been up and down a large part of my adult life. I have had successful bouts of dieting, exercise and counting calories and at one point had lost nearly 70 pounds and was not too far off from my ideal goal weight.

I am back on the train again and I am finding one of the things I struggle with the most is when I cook really understanding how many calories are in a per serving of what I cook. I tried a couple recipe calculators but I did struggle with those too, they did not seem accurate. I would cook for instance a pot of chili and I don't know when I'm cooking a big pot, how many servings it is going to break up into, I basically want a calculator that takes all my ingredients and says hey, if you eat 1 cup of this combo it will be X calories, and so on.

I find that due to this frustration I end up eating things that are way unhealthy for me, such as microwave meals just because it takes the work out of calorie counting.

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