Post # 1
So I’m starting to seriously think about calorie counting (Mrs Avocado inspired me! If you aren’t reading her married blog, you should start!) …
My big question is that it’s obviously easier to count calories of processed food. For example this morning I had a yogurt (100 calories) an apple (approx 55 calories) and a granola bar (175 calories) …330 calories. Then I had a TV dinner for lunch that was 380 calories. So so far so good … But now I’m trying to plan my dinner but I have a hard time with figuring out the calories of things that aren’t written out/calculated for me. I know I can find a lot of calories online, but I don’t "trust" all the sites. Perfect example being that I found a bunch of different sites saying different things for an apple – so I just kind of guessed somewhere in the middle.
Here are my questions: is it pointless to be doing all this calorie counting when I’m eating crappy processed food all the time? if it’s not too bad, what are some of the other things on the nutrition label I should be checking other then calories? I think sodium is one to make sure there isn’t too much (but usually there is!) … but beyond that I’m a nutrition label novice!
Post # 3
I make it a point to stick to 1500 a day approximately. Don’t go under 1200 or you essentially starve yourself accidentally. It depends what KIND of processed foods you are eating. Sometimes I eat processed foods because fresh foods are expensive and sometimes not as convenient. It happens. The armstrong live healthy site is one i use for estimating food calories and as long as you are pretty consistent, it gives you a ballpark of where you are. You should watch your sodium intake, though. A low calorie soup can have an obscene amount of salt, which bloats you big time. I thought this was bull hockey until a friend of mine (a pro cheerleader no less) told me to go on a 400 mg a salt day diet for the week leading up to my boudoir pics. I kid you not it was a huge freakin’ difference. I also learned to cook with a variety of spices like cumin and other strange things instead of garlic salt =]. Yum, garlic salt! Also watch your trans fat which is a biggie. Trans fat is really bad for you. Kudos to you for taking charge of your life, though! If you want to know if a food is going to stick with you for awhile, start looking at protein counts. More protein=fuller longer. BumbleBee makes yummy thai flavored tuna in a small flat can. I eat it straight out of the container, it’s delish! No point in eating a low calorie food if it only stifles your hunger for 20 minutes, so definitely look at protein. Flavored deli turkey slices (from the deli counter, not the store kind) is a yummy quick filler. I picked up some SoyNutrition vanilla meal replacement from Sam’s Club. 150 calories, kind of tastes like ice cream, I throw in some fruit, and I have a 200 calorie snack shake in the afternoon. Ok i’ll stop, I could talk forever about food. A food log is not a bad idea, either. It keeps me on track for sure.
Post # 4
wow .. ejs .. thanks!! I think I just learned more in the last minute of reading that then I have in the couple of hours I’ve spend randomly googling! I just wrote down each of those things … it’s kind of exciting/empowering to calorie count. I might be PMing you for some more fun snacks/food options! 🙂
Post # 5
I definitely don’t think it’s pointless to count calories even if you eat a lot of processed food (although it sounds like you know that’s probably not the greatest re: sodium, etc.)
I truly believe that overall health is about calories in versus calories out, and that calorie counting can be a good way to learn about good health and nutrition in general.
I use the "Lose It" app on my iPhone…and if something isn’t in that program, I trust http://www.sparkpeople.com or http://www.calorieking.com. Calorie King also has very handy guides you can tote around in your purse if you want something offline. For homemade foods, I find out the calories for each ingredient, for example, 1tbsp olive oil, 4 oz. chicken breast, 1 cup diced tomatoes, 2 oz. whole wheat pasta, and then add it up.
Most of the online programs allow you to create a recipe box this way, so you only have to figure out the calories in your favorite make-at-home dishes once.
Eating out is the toughest–again I try to guess each of the individual ingredients and add up. I usually round up or throw in an extra tablespoon of olive oil or butter, since restaurants tend to use those ingredients in abundance.
Edited to add: I wouldn’t just choose a random calorie goal either. All of the programs above have calculations to figure out what your calorie goals should be based on your age, height, weight, activity level, and weight loss goals. As you lose weight your calorie range will change!
Post # 6
I use the livestrong site like a previous poster said. You click on the daily plate on there and can keep a journal of foods. I like it because food can be *verified* that the nutritional content posted is correct.
I def. don’t think it’s a waste of time to watch what you are eating. I try to stay under a certain amount of fat grams and calories.
Post # 7
My brother is a personal trainer, so I have been bouncing ideas off from him when making new food choices. He said that some of the low cal tv dinners are fine, but to watch out for the saturated fat in addition to the calories and total fat. Sometimes it’s hiding!
Post # 8
I use fitday.com . You can find most foods on there. Fiance and I created a new rule for our selves… Anything we can make from scratch, we will. If we want potato chips, we make them from scratch. Refried beans– no more can– from scratch!
Now in our house we have whole wheat flour, a variety of grains, sugar and spices. It’s really hard to mindlessly snack when there is nothing there. We keep hard cheese if we need a quick fat/protein infusion and a variety of fruits and vegetables to satisfy the munching urge. Now we know exactly how much oil and fat is in our food because we put it there. I bet our sodium consumption is way down too. I’m not even really dieting at all, and I’ve definitely noticed a change!
Post # 9
for me high protein is key, but everyone’s metabolism is different. The main thing is that no matter what simple carbs (e.g. sugar, white bread and rice) are generally not good…so try to get carbs from whole grains. Even if they aren’t terribly processed, they are usually packaged in a way to that you can get good calorie counts. Fruits and veggies are harder b/c it depends a lot on their size and how they’re grown…but no matter what they will almost always be the lower calorie option than any other comparable amount of food. Most of the calories will come from the fat you’re likely to add when cooking the veggies. I don’t have cholesterol worries so I try not to think too much about fat…as long as I’m eating healthy ones (e.g. olive oil + small amounts of saturated fats instead of trans fats). Baked goods are one of the bigger places where you’ll find trans fats b/c they improve texture. But fat is also what helps your body feel full, so cutting it out completely can have bad consequences.
Keep in mind counting calories can be somewhat misleading, b/c you could for example stay under your limit by only eating two servings of ice cream every day. Your body needs the nutrients in food in addition to the calories to do what it needs to do. I’m not a big fan of processed foods, but mostly b/c I’m a total food snob 😉 and I think most taste pretty gross. I think salt is the biggest health concern, though I don’t think it’s really clear how well our bodies process all those other preservatives either. I could believe they get stored in fat cells (as many fad detox sites claim), but I’m not sure if there’s any really compelling evidence of this. I subscribe to the notion that if you eat well-rounded meals (which for me are high in protein and include lots of veggies) and snack on filling things like nuts in between it’s actually pretty hard to go over calorie counts.
Post # 10
Thank you all SO much for your thoughts and recomendations! Seriously I am going to take all of this with me and think about it a lot.
I just downloaed the Lose It! application to my phone, I’m excited about this. I also am going to start another thread and see which sites people prefer: sparkpeople v. calorieking v. fitday.
I think eating out is going to be harder, but simply making good decisions and not eating the entire huge portion is a good place to start.
This is all awesome advice, thanks so much!!
Post # 11
Eating out isn’t too bad depending on where you go. I avoid fast food vehemently, and if I know I’m going to, say, Quiznos or Subway for lunch at work, I look it up and decide what I’m having before and nix the cheese and mayo so my healthy turkey doesn’t accidentally end up being a 600 cal sandwich. These are kind of obvious, but I used to wait tables, and once you see the numbers on those mass food company’s jars, you never want to touch them! Sauces on the sides, get oil and vinegar on the side (mix it yourself, add a squeeze of lemon, voila low cal salad), no butter, you can ask them to dry broil stuff (we used to ladle our fish we butter, maybe 1/4 cup per fish, yikes) or dry steam them (it’s done in the microwave, but it works). You can ask for some balsamic vinegarette dressing on the side and pour a TB or two over your chicken and broccoli if it’s less than exciting. I do that at home. Cardini’s is my absolute favorite. Make it a point to halve your meals if you have to have the cheesy goodness pasta bowl. Tell yourself if you’re hungry again later, you can have a little more of it. I always end up with lunch the next day. And I always ask myself "is this really worth X calories" and sometimes I think about it and end up saying no, it isn’t THAT good. Case in point: a pad thai i made the other night. Probably high cal, not that tasty, so I chucked it. Good luck! Have you though about subscribing to Women’s Health or Shape or Self? I get all three, plus Glamour. I’m a magazine junkie, though, and there are always yummy recipes in there and quick at-home work outs, plus i find it motivating to look at pictures of people who are in shape and healthy looking!
Post # 12
I know I’m going to subway tomorrow so I’ve already picked my sandwich! 🙂
I do get Self and I really like their workouts — I think I might get another magazine … or I’ve been looking at those online sites today and they seem to be really useful.
Really ladies – thanks for the responses! If anyone wants to join me in my new calorie counting journey PM me and we can encourage each other!
Post # 13
Hi! counting calories isnt really the answer.
What really works is having natural everything 🙂 this is what i do to maintain myself eating healthy, now we all know this is hard uuffff!
I have tried to do the processed food and trust me it dont work.
breakfast: eggwhite omelette with slice tomatos on top ( if u dont like eggwhite then u can use one yolk) then use all natural …peppers/onion/garlic and black pepper … oohhh i use a very small amount of olive oil
snack: usually i have one green apple/bananna/ or a glass of natural juice (no sugar) or just fruit salad.
Lunch: Noodles with tuna w/lemon pepper, they have prepared already at any supermarket. i add oregano, more lemon if you like and some sliced almonds.
Snack: one or two whole grain crakers with peanut butter and sliced bananna on top
Dinner: i usually season chicken breasts for the whole week with all naural ingridients and did i mention that you can replace salt with lemon or if you have to have some salt then use veeerry little, for carbs you can have salad, brown rice, veggies, the way i season my veggies is: with garlic/black pepper/ and culantro… this is really good……. ohhh always eat small amount it should be only white meats and jaust about 6 oz of protein and 4 of carbs.
snack: you can have corn starch if you like… i love it and you can use small amount of brown sugar. or you can have anything healthy.
this is just usually what i do… i also go to the gym 5 times a week doing half an hour of cardio (running usually) and weight training. I have seen great results!
im sure you would look amazing for you wedding! 🙂
ooohhh if you want to look at some good work outs go to http://www.youtube.com
Hope this helps !