You asked: "Should I not bother with tracking for the 3 days I'm away, so long as I'm not cramming my face with high-calorie desserts or fast food?" No, continue to track, but tracking may have to be approximate.
When we go out there are three 'options': a restaurant that has information online we can use to get a good idea of what we're eating; a restaurant that doesn't have information online but that we've been to enough that we have an idea of what we're eating; and a new restaurant.
It's easy enough to track food from the first kind, but plenty of little experiments and surveys have shown that the posted info and what you actually get can vary *A LOT*. But tracking is about accountability, not 100% accuracy; if you use your tracking to say, "hey, I get to eat 1500 calories today ... I can't have this because it will take me to 1550 calories" then 'you're doing it wrong' in the parlance of our times. Anyway, as for the other kind of restaurants, I do my best to guestimate the ingredients and portion sizes and input the ingredients and amounts when I get home.
The real chore or challenge at restaurants, it seems, is keeping portion sizes down and watching out for 'hidden' calories ... condiments and sauces, an extra handful of chips or slice of bread.
If I know where I'm going ahead of time, I will try to check nutritional values online ahead of time. If they are not available, and the dish is not already listed on sparkpeople or any other calorie counting site, I will search & list by ingredients and hope I'm reasonable close.
asking for recipes sometimes gets you the actual recipe, which means you can track it. it probably won't work for the restaurant, but you stand a chance with the co-op kitchen and friends.
and i guesstimate. when i cook and measure at home, i try and compare portion sizes to my hands [since i have them attached to me and all]. so i know my fist is about the size of a half cup. i can cup about 1/3 cup in my hands. so i make sure to practice when i can so that my eyeballing is better. that way when i go out, it's easier to figure out what i have. so if you had a cup of roast veg, enter a cup of roast veg. if you can't find an entry for roast veg, make sure you include the oil that likely got added when roasting them. make sure you use the right size wrap and include any further fat that was added to the wrap [if it was a warm wrap for example most things get a little oil before going on the panini press]. add the veg, the tempeh, the avocado and any dressing. get as close as you can.
i think it's good to guesstimate for a few reasons. one is that if you plan on not tracking forever having an idea of what a reasonable meal is is important. two is that when you're used to tracking sometimes seeing gaps can mean "i have plenty of calories left so.." which turns in to eating a lot more than you should. a third reason is that if you're overestimating calories, actually putting them in to the tracker can help you see where you're wrong [in other words, let's say you decided that your roast vegetables were 500 cals. but you enter in that cup of broccoli and squash and carrots and see that it was more like 70 cals for the veg and since there wasn't much oil a Tablespoon is a reasonable guess. so you're looking at 200 cals, not 500] so that you're not undereating because you're overestimating what you're actually getting. in other words, by breaking down what you get and entering things individually you can get a better guess of what you actually had rather than just guessing.
one thing one of my spanish teachers insisted on was that you had to hear and use a word 72 times before you could really remember and know the word. and while that sounds like an insanely high number, the idea that more you look up the same information and variants of it, the more should stick in your memory makes a lot of sense. so the more time you spend playing around with what you ate, the better the idea of what you actually ate you'll have. and for most people, the better the idea that they have the more likely that they can stop tracking at some point and guesstimate close enough to where they maintain so that they will not need to track forever.
It sounds like you're making excellent choices while out. Good for you! It's okay to guesstimate while you're out. I try to overestimate just to cover myself. For instance, I don't assume the tortilla is a low calorie, low carb tortilla...I plug in the calories for a full- calorie one.
Keep in mind that it takes 3500 calories over your maintenance calorie count to gain weight. So unless you're breeding it up over the course of 4 meals, you probably won't gain fat from this. (Sometimes food out can be high in salt, but added water weight will come off)
Fitness Minutes: (22,732)
97 3/31/13 8:07 A
I always try to take a picture of the meal with my phone. That allows me a little better memory when I do get to set down and track.
Sometimes, if I am alone, I'll track though the phone app. I don't do that when in company.
Best guess is all you can do in some cases, but at least it's a guess.
There are a lot of restaurants' information already in the Tracker, plus there is nutrtition information on lots of restaurants' websites.
For those restaurants that don't have a website and/or don't publish nutrition information-- I choose something in the Tracker that seems to be similar to what I ate. If it was pizza, for example-- was it similar to Pizza Hut or more like Domino's. If it was a burger, was it similar to McDonald's or more like Chili's. I pick whatever seems to be closest to what I ate.
I track anyway, even if it's just a guestimate because there's no way to be totally accurate. I can get into real trouble really fast, if I skip tracking altogether. It's the same when I eat at someone else's house, and of course they're not going to post nutrition information. I just do the best I can.
Fitness Minutes: (6,082)
505 3/30/13 10:09 P
I always plan my meals before I go out. For instance yesterday I had dinner with my family @ Olive Garden...and while salads are good for you...the dressing is not. So I went online to view their menu and found that I could order salad without their famous dressing...and I ordered minestrone soup because it was on 100 calories per serving. If you know where you are going try to do research. Most places have online nutrition menus. Good Luck!
Fitness Minutes: (2,560)
24 3/30/13 9:50 P
So, I'm in need of some tips and tricks concerning keeping up with a food log while eating out. This weekend, I've been away from home, so I've relied on eating out for 3 meals, 4 if you count tomorrow's lunch. The thing is, I do strive to go to healthy places, such as Whole Foods for their killer salad bar or a vegetarian restaurant, for example, so I'm definitely eating whole, very healthy foods. Today's lunch, for instance, was probably a heaping cup of roasted vegetables plus half of a whole wheat wrap filled with veggies, tempeh, and some avocado. It was from a locally-owned co-op, so there wasn't any sort of nutritional info on the packaging of either. What is the best way to estimate calories for such meals? Should I not bother with tracking for the 3 days I'm away, so long as I'm not cramming my face with high-calorie desserts or fast food? I eyeball portions, of course, but I still find it really hard to tell. I don't eat out often, so doing so for a few days without an opportunity to work out intensely has been a little worrying. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.