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The Value of a Calorie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I have been tracking my food lately, which is new for me. I committed to tracking my proteins for 21 days and have found myself tracking more than that, although I almost never track everything. Still, it is amazing what I am learning. It is interesting to see how that one-thing-that's-bad,-but-not-
t-make-that-much-difference really DOES make a significant difference in my day. It is also quite interesting to see how much portion distortion I really have. When I think I am eating light, I am really eating about what I should. "Ridiculous" has become normal for me. Relearning normal will take a while.

I did find a new trick today. OK, OK, I've seen many people talk about it before, so it's not really new. But it's new to me and it was amazing. I tracked the banana in my breakfast, but none of the veggies or dip. Then I tracked the chicken and mustard in my lunch (but still none of the veggies... they're too much work), and my coffee as a snack. Later, someone gave me a cookie. A big cookie from Panera Bread. I tracked it and decided I wasn't too excited about what those 420 calories did to my day, so I decided to save it and split it with my husband. When I got home tonight, I split the cookie in half and will count that for part of my dinner. You know, I wasn't all that crazy about the cookie and am very glad I didn't blow 420 calories on the whole thing. If I hadn't tracked it first, I would probably figure it wasn't such a big deal and gone ahead and eaten the whole thing even though I didn't enjoy it much. I never really *got it* before regarding how an item's calories fit into a whole day. I guess because I had heard about the enormous amount of calories in restaurant meals, I didn't understand that one big cookie is really equal (in calories... certainly not in actual nutrition) to an entire meal! Now instead of thinking something "only has 420 calories... that's not bad," I actually am beginning to see what that means in the grander scheme. I guess you could say I'm learning the value of a calorie.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    I was surprised on the drinks...coffee, creamer, whiskey, anything. totaly blew me away.
    2394 days ago
    The best part about being on Spark People for me has been the nutrition tracker. I do track just about everything every day and the results have been eye opening and have resulted in a lot of eating behavior modification for me. I have frequently found myself asking "is this really worth it?" when I look at the foods I want to eat and especially now when I look at what I intend to buy. I check those nutrition labels very carefully before I put anything in the shopping cart. For me the fat content has been the biggest issue. For the first few weeks on SP I was having a LOT of trouble keeping my fat grams within the recommended level even when my calorie count was actually lower than the recommended. As a result of tracking I know the price of a piece of bacon. I can easily eat a 1/2 lb at a sitting, so realizing that just 1 or 2 SLICES can throw away most of my fat grams for the day is mind blowing. One of the things that really got me as unexpected was what I used to call my "stick lunches" - Atkins low carb bars and shakes and Luna bars, etc. I would often use them for my work lunches because they are easily portable, didn't have a lot of sugar and could be eaten while walking during lunch time. Imagine the first time I tracked that stick or liquid lunch and discovered that they included 10-15 grams of fat or more depending on the variety. That's a lot of fat at one time.

    There are still times I go over my suggested range of either calories or fat, but now I do so knowingly. For me tracking is absolutely the best tool I have in making healthy choices.

    I'm glad you're finding tracking helpful too, even if it is just to track part of what you are eating.
    2396 days ago
    Yeah, when I'm tempted by something like that I run it through the tracker and see what happens. Sometimes I'm ok with it and sometimes I'm not, but I like making that choice BEFORE I ingest anything.

    For my normal foods, I track after because I already know what they do. So congrats to you and hope the tracking all works out!
    2396 days ago
  • JUSTA123
    emoticon emoticon emoticon step by step you'll find what works for you!
    2396 days ago
    Great Work and welcome to the world of calorie, carb, fat, protein counting. I track my carbs and keep an eye on the calories because if I eat shrimp - one of my favorites - I'm not eating any carbs but are the calories climbing rapidly.

    I am working on a nice calm blood sugar level, but I don't want to gain weight while I'm doing it. It's fun, it's a pain, but keep doing it. You'll discover more interesting things about yourself as you keep track of what you are eating.

    Have a Sparkling Day! emoticon
    2396 days ago
  • CAROLZ1967
    Because I feel I have a good gauge of what foods are good for you and what ones are not (what ones have many calories vs. what ones do not), I never thought that actually seeing the EXACT number of calories (from a restaurant item, lets say) would get me to not want to order it....well at least not order it, as I really might still "want" it! But it did! Maybe it was that I knew my meal choice would have a lot of calories but never would have guessed it was near 1000 calories! Regardless, seeing the actual numbers helped motivate me not to eat certain things too! It's a real eye opener. I also found that tracking everything helped me at the end of the day too.....I may have thought to myself, " I think I did pretty good today so I'm going to have a (low fat) ice cream bar or popcorn tonight". Then I finished tracking and maybe was surprised that even though I did do pretty good, I was at the high end of my range and really didn't have room for more (unless I didn't care if I went over for the day) and just seeing that fact, helped me not eat an extra snack at night, even if it was a healthier version. If you start to track all your food, you might see other benefits too. Also remember there are tricks to speed (tracking) up. Make a food "group" for favorite sandwiches, meals, etc. and then it's just one "click" vs 2 or 3 or more. And if you have a phone with apps &/or an iPad there are free apps for Sparkpeople that are very quick for tracking. I do all mt tracking on those now and rarely use the traditional site (for tracking, that is). Just some tips!! Keep up the great work!!!
    2397 days ago
    Really great! Tracking is so valuable. I had fallen into the mindset that it "took too much time", but I'm back to it now because it is so helpful that it is time very well spent!
    Keep up the great work!
    2397 days ago
    Good for you for thinking first! I find that's the hardest part. If it never enters my brain, I don't want it. Fighting those thoughts, though... emoticon

    2397 days ago
    I think that you have made a very big breakthrough! Congratulations!

    I find myself making much better choices because of that very notion. And, it has really paid off for me.

    By the way, you are a doll!

    2397 days ago
    You are making this happen!
    2397 days ago
    So well stated. I feel the same way you do. Every calorie can be the one which puts you over or in some cases, worse!
    Beautiful epiphany nevertheless!
    2397 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    I'm not a big calorie counter anymore, but I've done it and learned some. What is even more helpful to me these days is examining the density of the foods available. Small amounts of dense foods make a big difference. It's a good thing when you're eating a meal. I tend to stick to meals only these days, so a lot of the other stuff becomes moot. Doesn't matter how many calories something has- I'm not eating it. But the principle is the same- most random eating just isn't worth it. Even eating low-cal foods can lead to eating for the heck of it or just more another time low-cal foods aren't available.

    It's especially good for you to recognize that the cookie wasn't THAT great. A lot of what we think of as deprivation isn't. Gosh, when I think of the number of relatively lousy 800-calorie monster cookies I used to eat, thinking I was treating myself... well, I treat myself now by planning delicious meals and getting hungry enough to really enjoy them!
    2397 days ago
    I've found too that what I think is light, really isn't. Partly because the portion sizes you should have are ridiculously small sometimes. How can you be satisfied with such a portion! But I am changing the way I view portion sizes and like you, I track everything. It is amazing how quickly things add up!
    2397 days ago
    Good for you! Changing the way you think about food is so crucial to this journey! emoticon
    2397 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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