Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Counting Calories

So as I sit here nomming on my delicious lunch of white rice and cha lua I can't help but wonder how many calories I'm eating in one sitting.  Counting calories is a super important part of losing/managing weight but it is by far my lest favorite.  I try to input my calorie intake before I actually eat it to see if I'm allowed or if I want to make different choices, but for today, it's nom first, count later.

What drives me crazy about counting calories is that I can't believe how many calories are packed into such tiny things!  For example one serving of pasta is 2 oz dry and that equates to 200 calories (on average).  When I use my trusty electronic balance to measure out exactly 1 serving of pasta I find that it is two bites.  That's 100 calories per bite!  Ridiculous!  To combat this particular problem I tend to buy the smaller size pastas so I feel that I am getting more bang for my intake.  It's totally mental, but it keeps me from crying into my two forkfuls of spaghetti.
Another hard part of counting calories is estimating the amounts of food you are eating.  It is also SO easy to go low, so that way you have the satisfaction of being under your calorie limit.  If I'm at home, I actually break out the scale and measuring cups and get all scientific and measure out my food, but I will not do that at a restaurant.  It just going to take the home measurements to train my eye and my forgiveness of self to accept that yes, I did just eat 1000+ calories in one sitting.

I'm using the calorie counter from www.myfitnesspal.com/.  What I love about it is the extensive (and sometimes confusing) database of foods and their breakdowns and their bar code scanner.  The break downs are really nice so if you are trying to cut out saturated fats or sodium, you can see that you might be at or under your calorie goal, but you have exceeded your sodium intake.  Thank god for the bar code scanner!  I don't think I would do calorie counting if it didn't have it.  It also has this cool feature that you can put in a recipe that you made, say how many servings from the recipe, and it'll tell you how many calories are in that serving.  I have been able to find most foods on there, some of my more obscure asian food stuffs aren't there.  A lot of stuff is user generated, so I tend to take it with a grain of salt.

Another benefit of myfitnesspal, is that you can set goals for yourself and it will adjust your calorie intake to match your goals.  It will also keep track of your weight and measurements.  So for example:  my current calorie intake level is 1,590 cal/day and my goal is to lose 1 pound a week.  As I lose weight, or if I have to push through a plateau I can adjust my goals and my calorie limit will change.

Lunch is done, and it turns out my lunch was a whopping 634 cals.  I didn't have breakfast, so that leaves me 956 cals for dinner and snacks.  My goodness that's nine whole forkfuls of spaghetti!  Oh happy day!


  1. I definitely feel for you. But it sounds like you're off to a really great start!!

    I used to use myfitnesspal and my cal intake was and still is 1200 a day. I think I used that for several months and it was a pain worth it. And now I've become a pretty good judge of how many calories something is. But maybe I should start it up again.

    One thing that might help is eating brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Refined grains will only give you empty cals and the whole grains are a really good source of fiber and they can make you feel more full. But I really hate brown rice so I used to do half and half until I got used to the taste of brown rice.

    Another trick that I learned was drinking a lot of water before every meal. I used to be starving all the time until I did that. I still sometimes forget but my body slowly got used to the smaller portions and its not so bad.

    I lost 6 lbs - going from 138 to 132 in two months. But then I gained 4 of it back when my mom came... she does the whole Asian mom thing of "You're so fat! Oh, here, eat some more of my cooking." thing that threw me off. Now I'm struggling to get back into my routine before Thanksgiving :(

    1. The Asian mom thing is the worst! Thanks for the tip on the half and half. I'm with you on the brown rice thing, but I love whole grain pasta. I think I just prefer white because it is what I'm used to and Brown rice actually has flavor ;).

      I decided to grant myself a larger calorie total simply because I would get so upset every time that I went over that I would stress eat (makes no sense but it happens). This way I will gradually decrease my calorie content and gradually change my habits!

  2. Justifying the calories for rice and pasta is tough! The best thing you can do is supplement every meal with large portions of veggies. I even avoid counting calories from healthy whole fruits and veggies so I have that much more motivation to eat them. I certainly didn't gain weight from eating too many veggies, y'know?

    1. True that. I'm trying to be good about having a salad for lunch and cooking vegetables for dinners. With the play happening, home cooking isn't happening so the veggies are going by the way side. But we are replacing the bags of chips with bags of carrots and snap peas.