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CAT_NIPS SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (490)
Posts: 88
10/6/12 11:38 A

I'm living with a host family that makes most of my meals, soI do the same, but I always add 1/2 a cup more than I think I have eaten. It isn't fun, but I know that people tend to underestimate how much they have eaten, and I want to make sure that I'm not undermining my work.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,236
10/6/12 9:22 A

russell you really need to weigh out 2oz dry [or if it's a 16oz box, separate out into 8 equal portions], cook it and measure it to better eyeball what you're actually using.

the 2oz being 200 cals is for 2oz dry. 2 oz dry roughly yields a cup of cooked pasta. so if you're looking at half cup portions, each half cup portion of pasta is roughly 100 cals. this is going to change somewhat based on the shape of the pasta and how well you pack it into a cup [spaghetti for example is awful to get to fit, ditalini and orzo are easy].

so 2.5 cups of cooked pasta would be about 500 cals and would have started out its life as about five ounces of dried pasta.

and to the op, you do the best you can with what you are given. you have to approximate sometimes and it's in your best interest to be as accurate as you can be. as you cook and measure more and as you go out to eat to places that have nutrition info posted, you'll start to get a better idea of what you're eating. then if you go to a local pizza joint and get a slice, you can use your knowledge that dominos has smaller slices, but sbarros has larger and the local pizza you ate was greasier than both. so you'd want to find a slice that was in between in grams, but heavier in fat. or you could use 1.5 slices of dominos for one slice of the local, and add in a teaspoon or so of oil to compensate for the extra fat [or cheese, or whatever it was that there was more of]. the more you can actually break the meal down into components [and using your hands are measuring tools is a great comparison, just make sure you're double checking your measurements at home so you don't start eyeballing incorrectly] is the best way to get the best idea of what you have eaten.

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
10/5/12 11:40 P

Russell, I think you are overestimating.

The problem w/ pasta is, it comes in all shapes and sizes, and the 2oz/200 calorie number is for dry pasta. So, to use a volume measurement (ie cups) for cooked doesn't really work, unless someone has already done the figuring out. For example, the cooked ditalini (small hollow cylinders you see in soups usually) will appear to be a lot less volume-wise than cooked penne. So, the only way to track pasta completely accurately is to weigh out the 2oz before cooking, and only eat that amount.

But, since most of us don't cook just 2 oz of pasta at a time, it gets more difficult. What I end up doing is just taking the entire amount and dividing it (by eyeballing) by whatever amount of servings I'm using. So, like 16oz of pasta (which is what an entire box is) I would divide into 8 parts, as close as I can get it. I will always weigh out the dry pasta, since I rarely make an entire box at one time. I guess I could weigh the entire cooked amount, divide that by # of servings, and then weigh out the individual portions but that gets a bit time consuming :) If you always eat the same kind of pasta, then you could do it I guess, and just remember for next time what it should be.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 10/5/2012 (23:44)
JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
Fitness Minutes: (68,349)
Posts: 1,708
10/5/12 11:32 P

I used to run into this problem alot when my wife would cook something. But she has gotten better at keeping the cans and ingredients for me to look at. Then I just figure out about how much I ate and go with it. When I am eating at someone else's place, I either try to find something similar or I just guess and use my AAA don't know what I ate (100 Calories) listing. Then multiply it by how many I think it came to.

That being said, guesstimating is usually way off and should NOT be used that often. You will find once you start seriously tracking that your idea of a 2000 calorie day is way off. Even now that I have been doing this for over 8 months, I still don't trust my guesstimates, so I usually over estimate them. Even then, one doesn't know anything but calories and has no way of calculating sodium or any other nutrient.

NANLEYKW SparkPoints: (76,244)
Fitness Minutes: (31,253)
Posts: 867
10/5/12 11:24 P

For homemade recipes, I *love* the Spark recipe calculator. You just plug in the ingredients and the number of servings it makes, and it will give you all the nutritional info. Then I add that in the "Enter food not listed" thing in the nutrition tracker.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
10/5/12 11:24 P

I just have to ask about the estimate. My pasta says 200 per 2 oz serving, which I have been counting as a half cup if I ate it. So I would estimate 2.5 cups as 1000 calories.

Does anyone here know if I am overerestimating? Or is the OP underestimating. I just worry that if her basis for the estimation is wrong, and she stays the same weight, she may be confused if she doesn't know she ate 500 extra calories.

Plus although I rarely eat pasta, being able to eat a whole cup for 200 calories would be a much better cheat Above all I want to be accurate though. It seems like I get 4 cups from an 8 serving box though, so 1/2 cup per serving is what I estimate.

With most food, I try to avoid things that I have to estimate though. One meal a week isn't going to be much, but if it is all 3 meals, even a 60 calorie difference could be 180 a day, which might offset any loss. This requires me to make my own food, so I can calculate my ingredients. More work, but I can't afford to be wrong.

If you are estimating, the best way to tell that what you are doing is okay is that your weight is coming down. If you lose a lb this week, whatever you did works.

BUBBLEJ1 Posts: 2,981
10/5/12 10:22 P

I estimate when I have to. For example, today I ate lunch out. I had a chicken salad. Now, the tracker doesn't know the calories in the chicken salad from this cafe, so I had to guess a little. I entered the main ingredients (lettuce, chicken, avocado, mayo) and the result will just have to be close enough for today. I also had a donut. The tracker doesn't know the calories for this donut from this small, independent bakery in Upper Hutt, NZ, so I just had to enter in a random donut that sounded similar.

So, yes guessing is better than not tracking at all.

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
10/5/12 12:25 P

If you have the recipe your dad uses, you can click on the "Recipe" tab on the tracker, and then click on "Access the recipe calculator". Then once there, you build the recipe yourself, and then enter the amount of servings the recipe makes. It will calculate the info for one serving. Once you save it, you can go back to your tracker and it will appear in the "Shared Recipes" drop down box on the recipe tab and you can add it to your tracker like normal. I do this for pretty much every dinner I make. It can be tedious at first but after awhile you'll have a pretty big supply of recipes already in there. BTW I don't share any of the recipes I enter, that's optional. Also you can log back in later (via and go to my recipe box) and adjust it if an ingredient changes.

I even do this when I'm considering a recipe.. sometimes I build it and find out it's way too high in calories. After that I either figure out ways to cut it down (like add an extra veggie into a pasta dish to reduce the amount of pasta I'm eating). Or, I just don't make it, or I eat less than a serving and supplement with a veggie.

What you did for the taco salad is what I do too... just pick something that looks close.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 10/5/2012 (12:26)
SCIFIFAN Posts: 1,119
10/5/12 12:24 P

It is hard to figure out what some home-cooked meals have for a calorie count. I've tried entering in the ingredients for my home recipes, but so far not once have I been able to get the darn recipe to completion on this site, so I've given up on that. Something always happens (probably my own fault) and it just disappears and I have to start over.

I use the tracker search function to 'guesstimate' certain meals, such as eating out at a Mexican restaurant, or home made beef stew. If you check the square that says 'meals entered by members' you will get a lot more options. I try to pick one that is neither the highest nor the lowest for the food, trying to be as honest as I can as to how high calorie the food is and the portion size I ate. I try to pick one that has a 'real' portion size, like one cup, rather than 1 serving, since servings can vary so.

I know it's not completely accurate, but if you are honest about what you think you are eating it will probably even out in the long run.

JENMC14 Posts: 2,786
10/5/12 12:11 P

Guessing is ok once in awhile, but you should try to find a more accurate count. As a general rule, I think people tend to under estimate what they eat. Would it be possible for you to make recipes on of what your dad makes to get a more accurate count? Perhaps you could cooke one or two nights a week as well.

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
Fitness Minutes: (86,286)
Posts: 2,489
10/5/12 11:42 A

Well, I've had to do it! We eat at my inlaws biweekly and I'd be a huge pest if I had to get my MIL to list off all the ingredients and amounts in her dishes. Luckily, she always makes healthy dinners. So I just enter something similar. It doesn't happen often. When I make meals at home I include all the ingredients I use and then copy them into a group in case I need to use it later or have leftovers. I think if you're accurate most of the time, then it shouldn't make a big difference.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 10/5/2012 (11:48)
PROUDNERD SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (302)
Posts: 75
10/5/12 10:56 A

Is it ok to estimate?

For example, I haven't been able to find anything (except for store-bought lasagna) that my dad has cooked for dinner this week in the search (pepperoni alfredo, and tonight we're having beef stew.) Likewise I've also not been able to find any foods from the local mexican restaurant we went to last night, but I did find a generic taco salad in the search, so I just used that along with an approximate guess of how much I ate (three fists... about three cups.)

I was able to guess at the pepperoni alfredo, since there weren't even any close searches, by searching the ingredients and the approximate portions I ate (2.5 cups of penne pasta, 1/4 cup of sauce, 8 slices of pepperoni) but I have zero idea what to enter for the beef stew tonight and was thinking of just picking an approximate entry that's already there (there are many variations on beef stew in the tracker.)

Is guessing like this acceptable?

Edited by: PROUDNERD at: 10/5/2012 (10:58)
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