This week’s tip is sort of a continuation of last week’s “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.” Once you make a menu plan you will need a place to write it down and keep track of what you actually do eat (which sometimes will not be what was on your menu plan).
When you first begin dieting (or begin again), it’s important to keep track of everything that you eat. It can be a HUGE pain in the butt (and another major reason people quit in week 2 or 3), but there are ways to make the process easier. First, let me point out why tracking is so important.
Tracking what you actually eat puts you in touch with reality and lets you see the big picture (no pun intended.) Tracking, if done right, can be shocking. When you take the time to look up the calories or points or carbs in some of your favorite foods the big picture of how you put on so much weight becomes really clear. There are so many foods disguised as healthy that are amazingly high in fat, calories, points, carbs, (or whatever you are tracking.) Salads are usually one of the most shocking items. Restaurant salads, especially those with the dressing already on the salad, are almost always up there with fast food hamburgers in numbers. Now, the salad has more nutrition, but it is still too much.
|710 Calorie Salad versus a 510 Calorie Quarter Pounder with Cheese|
One way to make tracking easier is to stick to a few favorite items as I noted last week. See how the foods you already know and love fit in your plan. You might have to modify them a little (dressing on the side, half a serving with more veggies, etc.), but they are a great place to start.
|Lose It! App for smart phones and tablets|
Another way to make it easier are all the apps and electronic gadgets available. My favorite free app for tracking my food intake is “Lose It!” There are many on the market, but this one is simple to set up and use and has the ability to input a food using the camera on your phone to scan the bar code on a food. It also keeps track of my past meals, so repeat meals can be added with one or two swipes.
If you don’t have a smart phone or a way to track electronically, pen and paper still work just as well as they always have, although access to the internet will make it so much easier to find nutrition information on food you like.
Which leads to my final point. You want to be as accurate as possible, but this really isn’t rocket science. There will be foods that you cannot find the exact nutritional numbers for, local restaurants are one category that comes to mind. This is when I just get as close as I can. If I have fish tacos at my local Mexican restaurant, they are probably close to those served at a chain restaurant, so I can use that nutrition number.
Just be careful that you are not cheating (yourself) in lots of small ways. Those are the calories that add up quickly and are forgotten just as quickly. Samples at Costco count. The last four bites of your kid’s pizza counts. Liquid calories count. It all counts, so bite it, then write it.