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MI-ELLKAYBEE SparkPoints: (228,267)
Fitness Minutes: (210,762)
Posts: 4,388
4/24/14 12:34 P

If I can't get the nutrient content (like at a buffet) and I don't already know if its a high sodium item, (which is poison to me) I just will not eat it. Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. Nothing is worth gaining weight for.

ACHANSO Posts: 1,074
4/24/14 11:47 A

It is time consuming, yes, but for me it's reassuring to know when I'm on track.

Or convicting when I'm not ! haha

NOTBACKINGDOWN SparkPoints: (1,643)
Fitness Minutes: (478)
Posts: 65
4/24/14 11:40 A

I'm just getting started with Spark again (third times the charm... right?) I have found that tracking the food is the most time consuming part, especially in the beginning. I like to enter my own info instead of rely of someone else's info, this way I'm sure it is as accurate as it can be. Once you have your database of go to food set up, it gets easier, but I would agree that it is difficult to get started.

CMAD13 Posts: 8
4/24/14 7:46 A

I completely agree. Some of the foods are way off, and that's crazy sad because this kind of cheating just sabotages success...for them and the others that are using that info.

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/23/14 7:50 P

B12 and vitamin A are not always there. or what nuts are raw. emoticon emoticon

ACHANSO Posts: 1,074
4/23/14 4:57 P

Never be afraid to ask.
Also, the internet has tons of retailer/company info that you can look up later.

TRAXINA Posts: 78
4/23/14 3:22 P

I sometimes find a similar entree in the frozen foods -- like Stouffer's or Lean Cuisine or something -- and use that nutrition information. It will always be off some, but it's a good starting point.

If you're not at the store or don't have something comparable in your freezer, you can sometimes find the nutrition information on the manufacturer or grocery store website. For instance, Stouffer's lists all its entrees and nutrition info.

Edited by: TRAXINA at: 4/23/2014 (15:24)
JACOBS024 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,231)
Posts: 7
4/23/14 10:04 A

Sometimes its hard to track on here because I find that alot of the foods that are on here are entered incorrectly. I dont know if its on purpose by the user so they can allow more calories to not go over their goal but I like to know EXACTLY what im eating. So unless I have the package in my hand or can look it up elsewhere online, it's difficult to track honestly

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/23/14 1:16 A

Baby greens. we will see.

CARMEN213 Posts: 517
4/22/14 4:05 P

I don't eat out a lot and fast food for me ia a burrito bowl from chipotle. My rule cut out bad carbs, eat lean proteins, small portions and I will be fine. I usually if ai know ahead of time "save" my calories for later on.
For example--Breakfast out is always scrambled eggs with veggies- no toast. and water or tea
Lunch on the go at Costco- Ceasar salad, only about a tbsp of salad dressing, no croutons and water
and dinner is fish and veggies

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/22/14 2:15 A


SIMONEKP Posts: 2,764
4/21/14 2:54 P

Even if it's not a chain restaurant, you can use the chain restaurant nutrition guide as an estimate.

BOREDA SparkPoints: (373,783)
Fitness Minutes: (252,024)
Posts: 4,398
4/20/14 6:29 P

I don't eat out that often (perhaps once a week), and never at chain restaurants with publicized calorie counts for their menus. Most of my friends know that I am watching my weight, so when I eat at their houses they try to serve appropriate food -- but even so, when I get home and enter my estimate of what I have eaten into my tracker, I find that usually I have consumed almost an entire day's worth of calories in one meal! I think you can only do your best at guesstimating, erring on the high side if in any doubt, and be prepared to be surprised (horrified!) at the result. But we are here for a lifestyle change, not becoming hermits who never go out, so I think the occasional blip as a result of socializing is just part of the overall process and journey. If you think (or know) that you have gone over limits, you just have to cut back a bit and/or do a bit more exercise for the next few days. It does all even out over time.

KIDALOT SparkPoints: (21,521)
Fitness Minutes: (4,737)
Posts: 737
4/20/14 10:34 A

i have been very religious about tracking my foods. and i also eat out. i put foods into SP but i do it by grams because i weigh everything. i don't know what it meant by 1 serving most of the time.

i use fitday to create my recipes and nutritional information and then transfer the info to SP. when i eat out, depending on the food, i do several things: ask for no butter - restaurants put butter on so many things, not just baked potatoes. when i order something complex sometimes i eat half of it and wrap the other half up and take it home to tear it apart and weigh it. sounds dumb but it works for some foods. sandwiches, desserts, for example.

chain restaurants have their nutritional info online. street vendor or ball park or theatre food is hard to gauge. sometimes the halfsies thing works with them. i know that some of the restaurant dishes hold a half cup so i gauge from that.

it's tricky - but it also takes my mind off desertion. seriously, if i eat slowly - putting the fork down between bites - it helps focus as well.

4/19/14 6:56 P

I want to get as close as I can so I will look at several different choices for logging. Like hummus I would pick the highest one prob. Better to estimate high than to estimate low.

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (197,114)
Fitness Minutes: (256,277)
Posts: 2,243
4/19/14 1:18 P

I finally had to give up on food tracking--it just never worked for me! I know what I eat everyday...and I know when I'm eating high-calorie high-fat bad foods...and I know when I'm eating healthier options!

Food is & always will be my "issue"--I think about it all day long...planning meals, denying myself junk foods, giving in to cravings.

All I can do is my best--every single day. Some days my best isn't very good. And other days, it's ridiculously healthy. :) I wish I was someone who craved healthy foods & never wanted Doritos or chocolate. Sadly, after 8 years of working on it, I accept that'll never be me!

Life is a journey--and the road isn't always straight & flat. (Unless you live in North Dakota--just kidding!) Sometimes life is full of hills--ups & downs! Weight is the same way. Do your best each day--avoid restaurant foods if you can--and always EXERCISE! And then just enjoy who you are & the life you're living.

All we've got is this very moment...yesterday is over, and tomorrow hasn't happened. Live for NOW--and find blessings wherever you can! :)

SINGHALC SparkPoints: (1,217)
Fitness Minutes: (99)
Posts: 1
4/18/14 5:59 P

One can also use this great app called "Restaurant Nutrition" (available for IOS and android). This app helps you search the nutritional information of most of the restaurant food items on the go. Check items on a restaurant's menu before you order them!

BAPSANN Posts: 1,448
4/18/14 8:20 A

Thanks for all the great ideas, while I do not eat out a lot, my choices are poor at best when I do eat out. I will obtain the calorie king book to have on hand when I am out.

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/17/14 8:32 P


4/17/14 8:10 P

I rarely eat out but sometimes have the same issue. How I handle it depends on the circumstances.

1) I check the internet and if the item and its nutritional info are found I use that. If I find it on several sites, I'll compare them to see if they're all the same, very different, or what. One of my favorite sites for restaurant nutrition information is Dottie's Weight Loss Zone. (Her site is a mess but the info is great!)

2) I use "Calorie King" or "The Complete Book of Food Counts", both of which go where I go.

3) I use the Sparkrecipes site to create a recipe as close to the item I had as I can and use it. Note, I don't share those - they're just for my benefit.

4) I punt. If all else fails, I simply put the ingredients, to the best of my ability, in the tracker. I figure it's better than nothing and probably fairly close.

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/17/14 7:21 P

quinoa with spices I put together. How much dose parsley, onion garlic count? Not a cup. just a t dry.(Potassium) (roughage)

BENE38464 SparkPoints: (11,303)
Fitness Minutes: (9,092)
Posts: 2,547
4/17/14 1:27 P

I don't eat out a lot and that is a good thing for me...both calorie-wise and pocketbook wise! I have a neat little book which has a back section containing lots of restaurant meals. I ordered it from Amazon and it is the "Calorie King" one!

ACHANSO Posts: 1,074
4/17/14 11:00 A

Yeah the recipe tool is very helpful.

DJELIM Posts: 11
4/17/14 10:56 A

When tracking difficult food, I usually end up finding equivalents and creating a recipe for it. I enjoy making a number of foods like spaghetti, but I tend to add veggies and garlic to the sauce because store bought sauce is relatively bland for my taste. The other day I made a recipe for a ham sandwich because it was easier than trying to track each individual component.

ACHANSO Posts: 1,074
4/17/14 9:31 A

Yes, sometimes I have to add a filler "100 calories" or something similar. Or something you can do is if you know what a certain food is in its original form (uncooked) but someone made it homemade and fried it, you can add a Tablespoon of butter just as an estimate to make up for the frying. Just an idea. As the others say- track what you can and you'll get pretty close .

DOCKO56 SparkPoints: (16,704)
Fitness Minutes: (21,612)
Posts: 232
4/17/14 7:22 A

I checked the calorie lab as I had never heard of it before but I found it to be a little outdated--more like 2011 info. Many of the restaurants on their "Hall of Shame" have since provided info. I find a great website "healthy dining finder" to be more in line with what I like to do. It actually steers you to the healthier menu items at a particular restaurant and lists nutritional info.

CARINEVE SparkPoints: (27,154)
Fitness Minutes: (21,002)
Posts: 262
4/17/14 7:08 A

I love the misc. entry for tracking food!!
I have had the same problems as well when eating out, would track the separate ingredients and then I would stay on the low end of my calorie range that day (if that was still an option) or the next day. But just adding 100 calories to these ingredients (or 200) is much better for accountability, so thanks for the tip!!

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/17/14 1:20 A

other people have added food but not all the information I want.

LITTLE_DIVA Posts: 539
4/16/14 8:11 P

It makes me so happy to see that others have added a "misc" to their menus! I added one a long time ago for 100 calories, but always felt like I was either cheating or being really lazy, and as a result gave up logging all together when I had so many misc items... Now I think that I am just in really good company and need to just get back to logging more consistently no matter what. Hooray!

FIRECRACKERTT SparkPoints: (4,223)
Fitness Minutes: (770)
Posts: 21
4/16/14 3:50 P

I just love the tip about adding a "misc" entry. Thanks! emoticon

DOODLES1013 SparkPoints: (18,982)
Fitness Minutes: (8,236)
Posts: 473
4/16/14 8:30 A

Tracking the difficult and hard to resist foods is a whole lot easier thanks to SP emoticon

HADLEY123 SparkPoints: (22,511)
Fitness Minutes: (3,954)
Posts: 91
4/15/14 10:56 P

That 'misc' tip was just awesome. I'll be using that myself from now on. Thanks you guys!!

JMOUSE99 SparkPoints: (197,525)
Fitness Minutes: (99,772)
Posts: 6,276
4/15/14 7:11 P

EXOTEC thanks for that link. I frequently search food items on Google but for some reason that site never comes up in the results.

Also thanks to all who have "misc" or dummy items. I never thought of that! Doesn't help with things like protein and veggies, but it's still a great idea.

4/15/14 1:43 P

Like some others, I use a dummy entry for days/meals that I cannot or will not be tracking. Game days with friends; crazy vacation days. Mine's a little less conservative - mine just has 3,000 Calories for the whole day.

For something a little more specific, I add ingredients the way I would cook them and then add about 3 Tbsp of butter.

LINDAM.1 SparkPoints: (54,425)
Fitness Minutes: (20,530)
Posts: 9,775
4/14/14 6:53 P

I got on Spark People because the National Nutation guide Pamphlet 25 (or perhaps a different number ,has lots of different food but it dose not add them together. Yes I like to track A, B12 etc. We do what we can. When I asked at Cardiac rehab they did not have answers that did not cost an arm and a leg.

TIFFFIT Posts: 1,765
4/14/14 4:48 P

There are some great ideas here--thank you to everyone! Although it looks as if I've just started to make progress, I feel very differently this time than I did during previous attempts and am confident in my ongoing and ultimate success. Check back with me in a year and see how I've changed!

MULTIMOM SparkPoints: (65,063)
Fitness Minutes: (36,457)
Posts: 6,426
4/14/14 10:42 A

EXOTIC: Thanks for sharing CalorieLab. I was able to log my pizza from Pizza Hut. I will use this site often, as I travel frequently! Thanks!

4/14/14 9:53 A

Thanks for the great ideas. I find it hard to track my evening meals. Some recipes don't put nutritional values with them or mark so many serving rather than amount of serving. I try to estimate but often wonder if I under estimate. If I find a recipe with nutritional values I add the recipe name and info into my food tracker so next time I make it all the info is there for me. Breakfast and lunch seem much easier to track and I find it so time consuming using the recipe tracker on Spark people.

NICKYCRANE SparkPoints: (86,671)
Fitness Minutes: (47,855)
Posts: 1,317
4/14/14 2:23 A

I have misc, 100 and 1000. Otherwise guess, and try to estimate on high side. I also seem to burn more in cardio workouts than SP estimates, so I dont worry if i am slightly above cal guidelines. Nor do the scales seem to worry!

IMDADOGGIE SparkPoints: (42,022)
Fitness Minutes: (11,767)
Posts: 3,128
4/13/14 8:05 P

There are many foods I can't find exact counts on so I just guess the best I can. I know I am very careful with tracking and I depend on it.

4/13/14 7:56 P

I agree with others who have said to just do the best you can. For me, nights out don't happen THAT often (maybe once a week at most), so it's not a huge deal if I'm a little off.

That said, whenever possible, I have been taking EVERY opportunity to eat foods that are easily trackable. For pretty much all of my meals, I know the exact calorie count, and even when I go out I'll try to steer my husband toward a restaurant where I can know the calories too (most of the major chains are pretty good about posting calorie info nowadays.) I figure, if I put forth my best effort to be exact most of the time, then an occasional street taco or whatever that's hard to track won't be as big a deal.

Edited by: NEWYORKCHICK at: 4/13/2014 (19:56)
4/13/14 3:08 P

When I was just starting out, I measured everything to get an idea of real portions. Now I'm able to eyeball more often when I'm eating out, but as others have suggested I often round up on the estimated portions so I can give myself a calorie cushion.

SUMSUMS SparkPoints: (14,846)
Fitness Minutes: (10,312)
Posts: 1,456
4/13/14 1:08 P

I just type "taco" in the search and pick the highest calories. Same with popcorn and stuff. Since you know your going over anyway, its not a huge deal. Or, on those days you could just not track your night out and consider it a relax day :)

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
4/13/14 10:38 A

There are sites which list restaurant foods - including fast food. If I can't find something here on SP, I use

which has a wonderful list of not only regular foods (from the USDA database) but a long string of restaurant and fast food sites, and even a "hall of shame" of those who refused to provide their info.

If you can't find the specific place you are looking for, you should be able to find something reasonably comparable.

I'm a nut for tracking, too. Good luck!

DEB_NC SparkPoints: (28,967)
Fitness Minutes: (8,549)
Posts: 1,608
4/13/14 10:28 A

I added a misc to my food tracker. I have one for misc 100 cal and another for misc 25 calories. I use that when I have to track a food item that I can't find. I most time estimate on the higher end, for tracking purposes. At least I have some accountability on my tracker, even if my estimate is off. That's about the best we can do for food items, that we have no idea how many calories are in them. I figure if I am eating right 90% of the time, that 10% when I eat out, will all work out.

4/13/14 8:26 A

I think your attitude is perfect - try to do it really well, but recognize that there will be times you go out with friends and have a nice time, and it's OK to have a meal you can't really track. Sometimes I look at what other Spark users have entered for a particular food, pick one that's not too obviously low on the calorie count, and just put that in. It's not going to be possible to know exactly what you ate, and it's not necessary to know. I would come as close as possible without spending hours on it.

MISSRUTH Posts: 4,292
4/13/14 8:16 A

I'd have to agree that always eating at home isn't an option, as I have no intention of never eating out or eating at a street fair or someone else's house or whatever. Personally-- I just do the best I can. Usually I'll gauge what I ate, against the types of things served at restaurants that publish their nutritional information. Since I don't often eat at the top of my calorie range, I figure if I'm off a bit it'd all average out anyway. I prefer to use a restaurant's nutritional information rather than just building the meal out of ingredients, as (in my experience) restaurants use more sodium, fat, etc that you'd get from just the ingredients.

Unless we're on vacation, we usually eat at home and I can get good calorie etc counts on all that food. So the occasional "unknown" or hard to guesstimate food isn't that big a deal. For example.... if you want to be as accurate as possible 90% of the time... that leaves you 10% of the month (or 3 days of *best guess* per month) to just do the best you can and go on.

HAWKTHREE SparkPoints: (66,575)
Fitness Minutes: (23,594)
Posts: 4,530
4/13/14 7:51 A

More practice helps! When you do eat at home, that's your opportunity to weigh, measure and be precise. That way when you go out, you can estimate more accurately.

Also, use SparkRecipe to create a "recipe" that estimates the ingredients and size of what you ate. If the recipe is marked "shared" you can pull it up for your Food Tracker.

MLAN613 Posts: 18,821
4/13/14 7:38 A

My advice is to just do the best you can. You maybe can't find "street tacos" in the data base but I think tacos are there or for sure individual ingredients. The calorie counts may be off a little but it's better to be off by, say 100 calories, than 1000.

TIFFFIT Posts: 1,765
4/13/14 12:39 A

I am religious about tracking and have quite a bit of experience judging calories and portions, but I know I'm not perfect. What tips do you have for tracking foods that are difficult to estimate? For example, this evening we went out with friends. We had a couple of drinks (coke + alcohol, trackable), hummus with pita triangles (trackable, but not as easily due to variations in recipes and portion sizes), street tacos (super tough to track) and popcorn at the movies.
Does anyone have any ways to simplify this process?
My goal is to stay on track 90% of the time, so even if I'm way off the mark tonight it's not a huge deal, although I like to be accurate.
Please don't suggest I just eat everything at home; this is a lifestyle change and of course there will be opportunities to go out with friends for the rest of my life! I'm going to keep living, I'm just doing it as a healthy person instead of one who's out of control.

Edited by: TIFFFIT at: 4/14/2014 (16:42)
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