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BRENDAB49 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (7,336)
Posts: 501
2/18/14 1:43 P

It bothers me and my computer has been in the shop for about 10 days but I got it back today so I will be on it either at work or at home. YIPPY

CARDAMOMMA SparkPoints: (21,057)
Fitness Minutes: (21,962)
Posts: 467
2/18/14 11:51 A

Yes. Tracking is the single most important part of sticking to my plan, for me. It's still early days for me, though.

JAYDEE16 Posts: 257
2/18/14 10:18 A

When I first began using the tracker, I was the same way, and I've gone through cycles of being more or less OCD about tracking. However, I think of it more as a general guide or estimate. It's not going to stand up to a federal audit. :) I disagree with the aforementioned idea that the tracker doesn't have value to offer just because the data isn't 100% spot-on. It identifies trends, can highlight nutrient deficits, and gives you at least a moderately good picture of improvements you can make.

In order to compensate for inaccuracy in both overestimating calories burned and underestimating calories consumed (which is unfortunately the direction things usually lean), I track a little bit "under" when logging fitness (meaning, under-reporting the minutes or intensity) and track a bit "over" when logging food (round up instead of down, serve myself just under what is considered a serving size sometimes, etc).

The important thing is, if it is stressing you out, it's counterproductive. So I weigh and measure when it's possible, enter my own recipies in the SparkRecipes calculator, and when eating someone else's recipe or a restaurant meal, I use SparkRecipes or nutrition info from the internet, or whatever other resource I can find that seems the most accurate.

Remember that it's about progress and not perfection. Ordering more "simple" restaurant meals without a lot of extras like sauces, etc, helps. Eating at home more than eating take out or restaurant food helps. But in the end, this needs to work for you every day, for the long haul, and it's important to look at the big picture rather than get bogged down in the minutiae of whether there were one teaspoon or two teaspoons of butter on your broccoli.

MMFAREJ13 Posts: 256
2/18/14 10:08 A

I would remind myself that I tracked as closely as I could and try to move on, If I see a big difference scale wise that week I would make a note of that to review what I had tracked for my special meals. I have learned that I can't beat myself up for that type of thing or I will spin out of control. You know you had a reasonable meal and THAT is what matters!

NICKYCRANE SparkPoints: (87,089)
Fitness Minutes: (48,748)
Posts: 1,317
2/18/14 4:26 A

If in doubt, I guess. I have entries on my tracker for 100 cals and 1000 cals for eating out. When I tried intuitive eating without tracking, I started to putnweight back on. Now I intuitive eat, but also track it! I seldom eat in restaurants, but sometimes with friends, and have to guess. Our restaurants tend to serve grilled meat etc. occasionally I treat myself to something with a creamy sauce, but not very often. I ate out several times over New Year, but managed not to gain. I try to burn more cals if I eat more, but am not obsessive about it. On holiday with hospitable friends in Germany for a month, I put on about 3 kilo, which I have now shed. Another .7 kilo to get back to goal weight. Am still lighter than I had ever been in my adult life. And fitter!
I, too, overestimate cals eaten and underestimate cals burned. And HRM credits me withnmany more cals burned than SP.

LULUBELLE65 SparkPoints: (37,106)
Fitness Minutes: (27,770)
Posts: 1,169
2/18/14 3:31 A

Pretty much all data is bad data then. If you eat a "medium" apple, Spark says it is 72 calories, but that's only an estimate. Depending upon how much sugar is in it, it may be more or less, and that is not even taking into account what "medium" means.

Everyone has their own system for what works. Tracking everything I eat, even if it is not always accurate, keeps me honest and mindful about what I am putting in my body. YMMV.

KMRJPR SparkPoints: (69,755)
Fitness Minutes: (18,940)
Posts: 2,779
2/18/14 1:51 A

Great topic. I don't always track although I'm trying to improve that. I know it will help. I also know that sometimes I choose not to track it because I don't want to own up to what I ate. All things I'm working on.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
2/18/14 12:11 A

I agree with Russell--and if you are someone who is eating out more than once a week, that level of inaccuracy can significantly throw off your data. Bad data=worthless data.

There are very few times when I CAN'T track with at least 95% accuracy. Generally when I don't track, it is because I make a choice not to do so. It doesn't bother me, but I do own the fact that it is my decision and that I am likely to pay for it.

MARTHA324 Posts: 6,085
2/17/14 10:12 P

It doesn't bother me because I figure most of this is just an estimate. I eat a lot of "real food" but even there I get different calories listed and tend to pick the middle one. I figure calories burned is also an estimate. Over time I think it all balances out; if I'm losing (or now maintaining) I guess it is working.

When I'm at a party and have no idea of the calories I just add something like 1,000 or 1,500. It's not accurate, but when I look back at the week I see that one day I went over my calorie goal and that'll keep me on track for other days.

It's worked for me.

REBBLTX SparkPoints: (25,008)
Fitness Minutes: (10,288)
Posts: 149
2/17/14 9:40 P

Yes! I also miss being able to have the foods listed in my recommended program on here. I've come to crave the foods suggested. Great thing!

CHARAVON1 Posts: 8
2/17/14 5:58 P

Yes I total see a difference in how and what I eat.

2/17/14 5:27 P


KELAN5 SparkPoints: (56,911)
Fitness Minutes: (82,448)
Posts: 208
2/17/14 4:48 P

I do my best to estimate. It sounds like you have allowed for it and there will be other occasions in your life when you won't be near a tracker at all (this recently happened to me when I was in Italy). Do the best you can, take pictures, relax and enjoy. This is your life-- live it!

Edited by: KELAN5 at: 2/17/2014 (16:51)
TARA_90 SparkPoints: (1,550)
Fitness Minutes: (410)
Posts: 14
2/17/14 3:51 P

Yes, I am almost obsessed with everything being exact. I worry about 50 calories here or there and always way over estimate just in case when I can't be sure. I typically try and suss out all of the ingredients too but I am never sure if I am estimating right or not which bothers me.

Oh well, I guess that is part of the addictive personality that leads me to overeat in the first place.

TIPYRAIN Posts: 7,416
2/17/14 3:46 P


I was so happy to read your post!!!!:)) I am the same as you. It drive me crazy not to be exact!:(( I'm like that with my exercise too. UGH! If in doubt I add or, assume toward the higher side of cals. in and the opposite with cals. burned. I think that's the safest way to go with it.

I cook at home a lot and most things are not easy to track. Have you ever tried going to a different day and say, you made gumbo. Ok, you've got this pot of gumbo now what? portion it out into individual servings? Not if you're not the only one eating it! Also it never comes out exactly the same and you've already had to do the whole individual ingredient thing and guesstimated THAT! WAT TO MUCH WORK! Especially when it takes so long just to track in the 1st place. all I have is a laptop. But like today it has taken me 3 hours to track exercise and food!!!! I want to give up on it but then I only hurt myself and it is a lot better than trying to guesstimate EVERYTHING!

Thanks for posting! Nice to know I'm not the only one!:)) HAPPY TRACKING!;)

2/17/14 7:23 A

I agree with the last post. I become a post it note or napkin queen when I can't enter my food as I take it in.

2/17/14 12:28 A

I track because I tend to have food amnesia after I've eaten. Once I had a family member in the hospital and was eating cafeteria food for days, I resorted to writing things down on a napkin so I could track once a day. I knew what to eat to stay under my calorie limit but didn't know how to keep track of protein, carbs etc. without tracking.

2/16/14 8:09 P

Honestly, I have been living my healthy lifestyle for 5 months and I very rarely go anywhere that I can't log exactly what I am eating. If I do have to eat someplace that I can't log then I get something that is not cooked or prepared so that it is fresh (fruit salads, salads, steamed veggies, sashimi...) anything in order to stay away from added oils and seasonings. This has worked for me because I am a little obsessive when it comes to logs and I feel better knowing exactly what I am putting in my body. Good luck! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

FIFIFRIZZLE Posts: 2,148
2/16/14 6:33 P

I have been tracking for almost a year now, as I have lost almost 100lbs. But I am planning to sample track once I have gott my goal weight, rather than track religiously.

I know it is a tool for success but I feel more inclined to give intuitive eating a go. I sure hope it works!

The idea of always noting down everything I eat is deeply unappealing. I hope it doesn't come to that. But if it must, it must.

Good luck with your tracking, trackers!

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,764
2/16/14 4:55 P

The only time I don't track is 1 week per year when I'm traveling abroad with my family- mostly because I don't know the ingredients that go into the dishes and usually there is a language barrier.

MISSYGEEN Posts: 2,080
2/16/14 3:12 P

I used to track more when I had internet at home and spark on my phone but now that my spark app was erased from my phone I don't really get o track. I did better when I consistently track. Also when i got tired of tracking every ingredient I just find the closest thing to what I ate.

PATTIEMCD Posts: 1,107
2/16/14 3:07 P

If it's toooo difficult to track every ingredient, I don't eat it. When we go out to eat, I look up the menu online, choose what I want and if I can't find it online to track, I choose something else I like that I can track. I use the Lose It app and it has helped me immensely.

HTAMALE Posts: 131
2/16/14 1:35 P

If I don't track I get way off course. Accounting for everything I eat makes me think about it and it just works better. For some stupid reason if I don't track I eat all kinds of junk. Seeing it all in black and white really puts it into perspective. It helps with exercise too. I want my Spark trackers to look good, even if its only me seeing them.

So yes it bothers me. My internet was down one day last week and it drove me crazy!

SUSAN727 Posts: 1,880
2/16/14 1:19 P

I only track when I know the nutrition facts or can search and find the food nutrition facts. I have yet to calculate each ingredient in something I made.

KLASSY813 SparkPoints: (5,555)
Fitness Minutes: (1,075)
Posts: 332
2/16/14 11:36 A

I can only track when I am at home. I don't have one of those fancy iPhone, Android, or other phones that takes pictures and has internet connection. So I take a note pad with me to the restaurants and do my best to guess about the amounts that are in my meal choices. So I generally stick to salads when we eat out....which is boring. If we are going to go all the way into town to eat out I want it to be a real treat.

GARRIE1 Posts: 636
2/15/14 7:36 P

SUSHI! We love sushi, but there's NO way I would eat sushi at a chain restaurant...there aren't many here in Utah, so that's not such a big deal...but it's difficult to track sushi. Many sushi chefs make their own varieties of rolls, so you really have to break it down into the elements in the roll. And you can't take your food scale with you to the restaurant, so, like someone else said, I do the best I can, and try not to get too anxious about it.

Good luck.

FOCUSONME57 Posts: 7,093
2/15/14 6:12 P

OK, too late for last night's dinner but here's some tips for next time aroiund.

Meat around the size and thickness of a deck of cards, cooked, is a 3 oz serving. Your palm, not including your fingers is also around the size of a 3 oz serving when the meat is a half inch thick.

Your fist is about a one cup serving of potatoes, vegetables, pasta, etc. If your fist is very large, maybe it's 1 1/2 cups, but for most of us it's all relative.

A tennis ball is also around the size of a one cup serving if that is easier for you to visualize.

For salad dressing, if you get it on the side, try the "fork dip" method. Dip the fork into the dressing and then spear your salad greens with it and eat. You will end up consuming only 1 or 2 tablespoons of dressing and still have flavor in every bite.

There was most likely 2-3 oz of cheese and 3-4 oz of chicken on your salad.

If this is a place you go to frequently, you can also use the groupings tab in the nutrition tracker to create groupings of the foods you would most likely order to make tracker easier.

For example if you always ordered grilled chicken with a plain baked potato and green beans, go ahead and make a grouping for that so that you can just track with one entry instead of 3 each time.

Spark People does have a dining out guide in the articles & videos nutrition section which may help for some of the chains.

Hope this helps for in the future!

VKKESU Posts: 1,010
2/15/14 3:45 P

Yep. It's tough because we know how well tracking works and when the info isn't there that first panic sets in. lol

I learned that there are so many variances that we have to make the best of what we got. Luckily we have the internet. I usually look up the item on three different sites and average it between the three because I guarantee all three will be different. I figure a good average is better than not tracking at all. When I go to the dinner theater it's the worst because who knows what is in their cream sauce !! I just average it out with each item and make the best of it. I figure E for effort. ;) I'll guess high when in doubt.

SCHATZISMOM SparkPoints: (48,700)
Fitness Minutes: (7,028)
Posts: 195
2/15/14 3:08 P

I always have my phone with me, so I use the tracker app when I go out.

I'm sure that restaurant information isn't totally accurate, but I'd hate to think that keeps people from living their lives. I hope that some of you didn't stay home last night because you were too concerned to eat dinner in a restaurant. Sure, you don't want to do it every day but once in a while isn't going to hurt anything if you make sensible choices. Salad with dressing on the side, grilled chicken, or broth based soups are good choices, as we all know. I can't speak for anyone else, but if you brought me a piece of chicken that was deep fried or grilled in butter - I'd surely know it by the taste and texture.

For me, I'm not overly concerned if an item has 100 calories or 200; if I'm not sure I err on the side of caution and eat a little less at my next meal. I've also been trying to up my activity to give me a little more breathing room as well.

KELLYINVA SparkPoints: (21,854)
Fitness Minutes: (11,759)
Posts: 32
2/15/14 10:43 A

I am also a compulsive tracker. If I don't track, I'm gaining. Period. I also feel really uncomfortable not tracking BEFORE I eat something. I am recovering from an eating disorder, and tracking has really been instrumental in maintaining control over that.

On eating out, yes, they'll underestimate, so my strategy is
1) check for the healthiest options ahead of time & track them.
2) Dab things with napkins to take off any excess oil (if ordering chicken, etc and if its possible without embarrassing yourself)
3) Track the whole meal, but don't EAT the whole meal.
4) Make sure I have a lower spectrum day on either side of the eating out day.

I will say I really try to stay on the low end of my calorie range most of the time and we eat out like 3-4/month, and I've found my body some times needs the jolt of the higher calorie meal to "reset" itself and I have a large drop after it.

Tracking to me also feels fun, like a game in a way, how much delicious and healthy food can I fit in my day today!


LULUBELLE65 SparkPoints: (37,106)
Fitness Minutes: (27,770)
Posts: 1,169
2/15/14 9:13 A

Russel, if you have the kind of life where you only eat out a couple of times a year, then yes just calling it a splurge day and not tracking it is an option. However, some of us eat out once a week or more, and despite the fact that tracking is an imperfect science, feel that having some accountability for what we are eating is better than just blowing it off.

I also worked in restaurants for years, and while I know that butter gets added to everything pretty much as a matter of course, I also know that any good restaurant will take special requests to heart and make the food the way the customer asks. Certainly one cannot expect to eat molten lava cake and steak frite every night of the week and expect to lose weight, but as I said, I eat out at least once a week, usually more, and know that when I track I am success full in my weight loss, and when I don't, I am not. It also helps that I tend to over-estimate my eating on a regular basis, and under-estimate my activity level. My 30 minutes of swimming is usually more like 40, so an extra couple hundred calories that are unaccounted for in my meal are going to be offset.

LEANIE64 SparkPoints: (35,838)
Fitness Minutes: (25,529)
Posts: 1,987
2/15/14 9:10 A

It does me...Tracking is such an important part of my loosing..What a tender mercy Spark is..!!

BRANDESKA SparkPoints: (43,246)
Fitness Minutes: (22,824)
Posts: 61
2/15/14 2:24 A

I am absolutely like this. I track every piece of gum I chew. If I don't know how many calories are in something, then I won't buy it or I won't eat it. Tracking has been essential to my weight loss success. I don't see myself tracking everything once I reach my goal, but for now if I don't know how many calories are in something then I just won't have it.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/15/14 12:06 A

I understand that it is your best option Lissa.

I am just saying that a lot of people track every iota of their daily food, down to the calorie, and tracking by guesstimate ruins it all.

It is like buying the statue of David, and adding Plaster of Paris underpants. If the tracker is to be useful, adding useless data is a waste, and ruins something that is great.

Better to admit that you have no way of tracking. At least that is honest, and if you actually need to use the tracker to look back on your diet, it doesn't render the tracker useless.

I say this only because this is why people fail on diets. I applaud people's efforts to try to figure out how many calories are in a restaurant meal, but it is almost impossible, and therefore a waste. Valiant effort, but based on nothing. If you did order all the ingredients separate, would you really enjoy your meal?

Looking back in two weeks after failing to lose a lb., how likely is it for you to say, it must have been that meal at the restaurant? By adding erroneous information to your tracker, you cover up why your diet failed if that becomes a problem. You accepted the information the restaurant provided, and will most likely never realize that it is the problem with you not losing weight. If you are actually tracking accurately, doing things this way takes all your hard work, and throws it out the window.

I also do understand that you aren't weighing a piece of cooked chicken directly in the palm of your You are comparing the phone and the chicken. I get that, but it is still inaccurate.

I think for most people, being off by a few hundred calories would make all the difference in the world. 250 calories a day is 1/2 a lb a week. Just because it is your best option to guess, doesn't mean that you should add it to your tracker like it is fact. That is all I am saying.

FTSOLK Posts: 1,400
2/14/14 11:23 P

Russel- I figure my options are to order the chicken dry and/or to add extra calories for oil in cooking preparations. The phone thing was simply an example of how something you have on hand can be used to estimate your portion when eating out (I personally don't like using my hands to measure.)

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/14/14 11:05 P

Lissa. Unless the chicken is by itself, how do you really know how it is cooked? Maybe it is the correct weight, and cooked in olive oil, then diced and put in the chicken stir fry. Or maybe the cook used butter. Better yet, what if he was waaaaay behind on orders, and tossed it in the deep fryer. All you have is X amount of chicken, in a dish full of sauce, diced up. Probably more chicken than you planned, and cooked in whatever way was fastest for the cook.

Using the phone to weigh a piece of chicken is something you can try doing, but calories are not added by serving size most often. Fattening methods of preparing foods taste a LOT better, and the goal of restaurants is to make you happy. Plus the weighing both is hardly accurate, even if it is your best method at that point.

Most dishes served in restaurants are off by hundreds of calories from what is advertised. The idea that any two dishes would be the same is laughable. You would be closer to the truth, if you just guessed, or added 25% to what they said the dish contained.

The funny thing is, eating at McDonald's is more likely to get you accurate tracking. The actually have pre-cut sausage, and hamburgers that weigh almost exactly the same, as well as the buns. They count 2-3 pickles per sandwich, and have a machine that gives 1 serving of mustard/ketchup. Slices of cheese, egg, bun.. all exact, or as close as one could be. They might overdo your fries, and give you 15 extra if you are nice to them, but it will be a lot closer than at a regular restaurant.

The reason restaurants lie to you, is that fattening foods taste better, and if you think the food is healthy, and they don't lose you as a customer by serving you bland food, it is a win-win for them. Everyone is happy. You show up for a meal once a week, and love the food, thinking it is 550 calories. They add 200 calories of fat to make it taste better, and you don't go to a different restaurant because the 550 calorie dish tastes terrible. Why wouldn't they lie to you? People don't actually like healthy food.. they like to believe that the fattening food they are enjoying is We love being lied to, as long as we can tell others we are eating healthy. The fact that we don't lose weight, or fit in our clothes goes unnoticed, because the menu says 550 calories!! It says so right in ink.

FTSOLK Posts: 1,400
2/14/14 10:38 P

Trust me, I understand completely.

Sure, I'm fine with using a generic entry for spinach or apples- even salmon and eggs. But I hate tracking a slice of chocolate cake as a generic "chocolate cake." I want to know the nutritional information for THAT particular slice of cake.

Oh, and typically, the average size of the little plastic dressing cups is 2 ounces (1/4 cup, 4 tablespoons), but average stainless steel versions are 2.5 ounces. So, if you use ALL of the dressing, you're looking at 4-5 tablespoons of dressing. If you want to stick to a proper 2 tablespoon serving, stick to 1/2 of the cup.

Obviously, it's a little late for this to help you tonight, but it may help if you want to tweak your tracker for today. Plus, you're probably going to be faced with a similar situation in the future. Knowing how big those cups are has helped me previously.

About a month ago, I did a google search of a particular styrofoam cup when I didn't find a size on the packaging at an event I was at, and I used that to measure out popcorn. When I was younger, I made smoothies with 8 oz of milk and yogurt (yogurt used to COME in 8 oz servings rather than 6 oz or less!) I poured the yogurt, and then used the cup to measure out milk.

My phone (in its current case) weighs 5 1/8 ounces. If a piece of chicken that I order feels significantly heavier than my phone, then I know it's probably heavier than 5 ounces.

I've eaten at Cheesecake factory at under 1,550 calories before (Skinnylicious menu). I'm sure 2,000 calories was plenty.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
2/14/14 10:33 P

As someone who cooked in restaurants for over a decade, don't believe any of the nutrition information. They make a dish when the restaurant is closed, and get it tested for calorie content, which is what they are required to do if they want to give out the information.

Then they have some low wage employee make the dish 100 times a week, and get 57 versions of it. Instead of taking 25 minutes to make a beautiful dish to exacting standards, they are just throwing food on a plate, because you are customer # 27 that hour. Even a salad can vary by hundred of calories based on how much dressing they put on, or eggs, bacon, or even chicken breast. If they add 4 ozs of chicken, instead of 3 ozs, are you going to complain, or notice? You can have dressing on the side, but not bacon, eggs, or toppings.

How about potatoes? They don't weigh the portion. In a hurry, the only concern of the people serving the dishes, is to put enough on the plate that you are happy, and don't send it back. That is the #1 concern of restaurant owners, and the biggest concern of cooks. Get 10 dishes sent back, and the owner will yell at YOU, and you might get fired. Slowness is sin # 2.

Putting an extra 200 calories on the plate, won't get you fired. Better to put 750 on the plate, and have a FAT and happy customer, than to have to remake a 550 calorie dish twice, which means you just lost the boss 350 calories worth of food. (1100 - 750 ).

The best solution. Don't eat out at restaurants except at 2-3 special occasions a year, and treat it like a cheat meal. Just don't track it, since the information is bogus.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,535
2/14/14 9:42 P

I dont get upset when I can't track. As long as I can catch up sooner rather than later.

FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
2/14/14 5:42 P

I don't eat at fast food restaurants on a regular basis, either. I'd say, less than once a month. If you know where you're going in advance, do a Google search for the menu and the nutritional values. I have an app on phone called Fast Food and it lists a variety of places with the nutritional value of it's food. I think it's for chains that are well known nationwide. Some places will even highlight or put a star (or some other identifier) for healthier meal options. You still have to be careful though. They're still not that greatest choices but they are better than the other options on the menu.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
2/14/14 5:13 P

i think it was something in fast food nation that stuck with me. the idea that companies like mcdonald's are trying to create a product that is as identical as possible. while i think that's a great idea where things like chair legs are concerned, the fact of the matter is that the apple that grew on the south side of the tree might have gotten a little more sun and be a little sweeter than the apple that grew on the north side of the tree. in nature there is variance. nature provides the best food [imo] and the more you try and turn it into a homogeneous product, the less of a good food it becomes. the more of a chain the place is the greater the restrictions or preprocessing on the food there is. whereas my favorite local restaurants can offer ramps as a side or as part of the pasta dish if the local farmer happens to have some that day. and my favorite local restaurants use the same farms that service my co-op, so they're not huge farms, i've had the opportunity to tour a few of them and you're talking about picking and eating with no more than about three days of turnaround time. so i will personally take that as a benefit over knowing exactly what the nutrition information is for the meal any day. i prefer the ability of a chef to showcase the ingredients to their maximum benefit over them being able to make something exactly like i would find them three states over [kind of bland and boring].
as far as your meal goes, unless your local place offers cheesecake factory-like portions 2000 cals should be more than enough to cover that meal.

JRSONE SparkPoints: (2,616)
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Posts: 35
2/14/14 4:45 P

Well, I ended up changing my mind anyway. I'm getting a grilled chicken salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I should be fine with over 2,000 calories. I'm not going to stress, I've been extra good this week and lost 18 pounds this past month.

2/14/14 4:31 P

I agree, that is why I don't eat much away from home. I think that restaurants should have a nutritional panel on their menus so that you know what you are eating and how much Calories, Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates that you are consuming. It is also difficult to track when you have a sandwich at a cafeteria you still don't know how much cheese or ham they are putting on your sandwich

MISSRUTH Posts: 4,299
2/14/14 3:18 P

Well..... like pp's have mentioned, those nutrition labels and nutrition info in general, doesn't have to be 100% accurate. Even with a restaurant.... the info on their website may not exactly match what's on your plate. They may be out of blue cheese and sub in something else. They may oil your grilled chicken, to keep it from sticking to the grill. Whoever's cooking that night might be in a really happy mood and is generous with the cheese. And those types of things weren't done, for the food used to determine calorie etc information that they've published.

The USDA takes samples and uses an average, as well. It's just not all going to be 100% perfect. I do not think I got fat because of some small variations in calorie counts, or because I couldn't get 100% accurate information every single time. I got fat because I ate too much of the wrong stuff. A lot.

When it comes to tracking.... I get as close as possible, using guesstimates if necessary. Of course it's easier to do this, if you cook from scratch at home, using whole ingredients. But when you eat out.... you can get in the neighborhood of "pretty good" counts pretty easily. And then beat yourself to death, trying to make sure you account for every fat gram and carb. It's just not worth it to me, to be that anal about it.

If someone offers me a homemade chocolate chip cookie (and I decide to eat it), I'm not going to grill them on exactly what recipe they used, and have they weighed the cookies (in grams, please!) first. Nope, I'll eat it and use a generic chocolate chip cookie entry in the tracker and just go on.

LULUBELLE65 SparkPoints: (37,106)
Fitness Minutes: (27,770)
Posts: 1,169
2/14/14 3:10 P

I'm a little OCD about tracking, because as soon as I stop, I stop losing. I don't eat at chain restaurants, so when I go out to eat there is never nutritional information available, however, my tastes tend towards the simple, so it is pretty easy for me to get a rough idea of what I am consuming. A piece of fish, a steak, etc is easy to track--assume that it's got butter on it unless you specifically ask them not to put it on. I don't really like cream sauces, but basically cheese sauce is cheese sauce, the specific ingredients may vary, but they are generally made the same way and you can get a rough estimate of what you're consuming.

If you're smart, you'll cut everything in half and save yourself a lot of calories, plus have lunch for tomorrow!

GREENGENIE1 SparkPoints: (327)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 92
2/14/14 2:59 P

It's time to light a fire underneath the politician's butts.

Contact Politicians:

White House
(202) 224-3121

1 (866) 220-0044
1 (866) 220-0044
1 (877) 851-6437
1 (877) 851-6437

U.S. Congressional
1 (800) 833-6354
1 (800) 833-6354
1 (866) 340-9281
1 (866) 340-9281
1 (877) 762-8762

Edited by: GREENGENIE1 at: 2/14/2014 (15:00)
-RUBIES- Posts: 6,228
2/14/14 2:55 P

I totally get it. I am a faithful tracker and love it. It's how I've reached and maintained my weight.

If I go to a restaurant that doesn't provided nutrition facts, because I eat out regularly, I can pretty much think of another restaurant that has a similar food, so, I go to that restaurant's website and get their nutrition facts. If I feel it's to far off, I call the restaurant where I ate the food and ask a few questions... i.e., does the food item contain both butter and oil, is milk or cream used, etc. I know it's not going to be spot on, but, if I feel like I'm in the ball park, then I'm good with that. Remember, if you've reserved the calories and overall everything else is in check (previous food tracking entries and you're exercising), you should be okay. Don't stress... enjoy!

2/14/14 12:23 P

Thankfully with the internet we are able to get nutrition info from many chains and even some smaller franchises. If I go to a restaurant that doesn't have nutrition facts, I contact the management or corporate either while I'm in the restaurant or when I get home, letting them know that I would be very appreciative if they would send me a nutrition facts list or put it on their website. They are usually happy to help. If it's not possible to get this info, I just use my best judgement to get what helps me in my goals.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
2/14/14 10:29 A

I have to admit that I started out feeling the same way, but it didn't take too long for me to stop getting my knickers in a spin about it. Since there's a 20% variance allowed by law from what the nutrition labels say, it really didn't make sense to count on those numbers to be overly accurate.

I'm just as focused on nutrients as I am on calories, so I tend to use the USDA lists as often as possible (I tend towards more whole foods, so this makes the most sense). I generally don't eat at chain restaurants, but have found that the odd time that I do, their listed "nutrition info" is usually significantly less than what I come up with by inputting my guesstimate of the recipe on to the SparkRecipes site. I go with my version, since the listed info doesn't take in to account different cooks who eyeball quantities.

I do the same thing with any meal that I've had at a restaurant or someone else's house: create a "recipe" of what I think the meal involved and go with that. To be on the safe side, I am generous with what I think the quantities were.

I figure that there are going to be times when I've over-estimated, and other times that I've under-estimated, so it will all work out over time. I've come to the conclusion that it's what the overall trend is over months that is important, so an inaccuracy here or there isn't going to have enough impact to worry about.

Drop your best guess in to SparkRecipes for what you plan on eating, remember that an inaccuracy here will most likely be balanced out by another inaccuracy in the next week or month, and have yourself a great time out for dinner!

JRSONE SparkPoints: (2,616)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 35
2/14/14 10:00 A

...every food they eat almost to a T?

I don't eat out much, when I have been recently I am able to find the information online since it was from a chain. I'm pretty crazy when it comes to tracking my food.

Tonight I'm ordering from a local restaurant. I know I have enough calories for what I am eating but is it weird that it bothers me that I can't find the EXACT thing in the nutrition tracker? It's an Antipasto salad, "lunch size". The meat in it is about the equivalent to 3 slices of pepperoni and 3 slices of salami, not what you would typically think of in an antipasto salad. The cheese in it is roughly one of those cups that you would fill up nacho cheese for chips, but mozzarella cheese and the dressing is a homemade house Italian dressing, in the same size cup. I'm not eating the bread nor the crackers that come with it and I've set aside over 2,000 calories (I'm a big guy, i'm trying!) for our Valentine's meal so I should be ok, right?

I'm just anal about my tracking.

Sorry about rambling on. Is anyone else like this about tracking?

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