What does your typical eating day look like? Are you frustrated because you think you are watching what you eat or drink, but your scale and clothes are telling you otherwise?
Tracking calories is not fun, but the process can be so revealing. A typical day of eating (for someone not watching their weight) might consist of scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, cheeseburger and fries for lunch, tacos for dinner, and a bowl of ice cream for dessert. It’s not the healthiest of meals and the calorie count totals more than 1,800 calories. It is easy to rack up the calories without even knowing it. For example, the other day I had an Orange Crush, one of my favorite alcoholic drinks (I do live in Baltimore after all). I was shocked to find that one glass contains 325 calories—two glasses contain 650—half of my daily allotment. Holy cow!
Tracking calories is not all bad. What I learned is that there are simple diet changes that can have surprisingly awesome results. Try any or all of the following and see if your scale becomes your friend.
- Watch the condiments.
Salad dressings, mayonnaise, sour cream are some of my favorites, but these culprits can rack up the calories. Take the cheeseburger mentioned above, I love mayonnaise on my burger, but one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 94 calories. Mustard, on the other hand, contains only 3 calories. By no means is it necessary to eat bland food, but simple substitutions can sometimes save a lot of calories.
- Drink 1-2 glasses of water before every meal.
Water has so many benefits, with one of them being that it can actually fill you up. Before you sit down for a meal, drink 1- 2 glasses of water. The water consumption will make you feel fuller sooner. Give it a try.
- Take the time to enjoy your meal.
Multi-task eating can be a downfall of any diet, no matter how innocent it seems. Sure eating your lunch while working at your desk may seem efficient, but it can also cause you to eat too fast. Take the time to enjoy your meal. Eat slowly and savor it. Otherwise, you can find yourself cramming down food without really tasting it. The faster you eat, the less likely your body will register that it is full.
- Cut your meal in half.
This little trick can help shrink your appetite. When you sit down to eat, immediately take your food and cut it in half. If you are at a restaurant, ask for a carry out box and put the other half of your meal in it. This is a great way to manage your portion control, which allows you to eat without feeling as if you are depriving yourself of a good meal. This allows you to still eat a yummy meal—just less of one.
- Plan meals in advance.
Write out what you plan to eat for the week, along with its respective calories. Tracking your calories this way – in one fell swoop – makes tracking calories easier. This method also helps you stick to your eating plan and not detour off course.
- Incorporate leafy greens, fruits with antioxidants, and grains.
What do the above foods have in common? They are all healthy and help keep your heart, cholesterol, and physical well being in check. They are also low in calories, which means you can eat more of these foods while sustaining your body with healthy nutrients.
- Watch the condiments.
Healthy eating can be a work in progress. It takes time to learn how and what to eat. Tracking your food can serve as a guide for establishing healthier eating habits. After a while, tracking your food will become unnecessary—you will develop a keener grasp of what foods work best for you and how much you can consume. That magical balance of healthy eating will become easier with time.