PSA: Calorie Counting

For the month of July I decided to track my calories. It started with wanting to be aware of what and how much I was eating while on vacation. It ended with wanting to get some data to see where I can improve overall. So what did I notice?

Most days I eat about the same amount of calories whether I try to or not. Breakfast is always the same, lunch is pretty standard and dinner depends on my Hello Fresh delivery. When I’m aware of what I’m eating I’m far less to have a post dinner beer or glass of wine or chocolate “just because.” But if I truly want it, I let myself have it.

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I found that I really enjoy Hello Fresh because it makes the prep and the thought process of cooking so much easier but I am at a loss on weekends and don’t know what to eat or cook so a lot of the time I ate more yogurt or cereal which isn’t the healthiest. My goal for August is to buy a few staples each week even if it’s Banza Mac and cheese and chicken sausage to keep on hand for those days.

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I can go out to eat or for drinks and it balances out. Sure some days I stayed within my calorie goal (which is an estimate) when eating out, but I rarely want to do that since I love food and am a social butterfly. Instead I was aware of which foods I truly wanted when out. Do I need dessert if I’m already stuffed? No? Then don’t have it. Yes? Okay! But most of the time I enjoyed myself and while I ate twice as many calories as my routine day the world still went on! I may not have hit the 80/20 but 70/30 isn’t bad!

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If I don’t drink enough water I eat more. Whenever I drank less than 1.5-2 liters of water at work I found myself unsatisfied with my afternoon snack or dinner leading me to eat more in search of that satisfaction. A lot of times that meant having a snack when I wasn’t hungry or having chocolate after dinner. It’s not a terrible thing to do if I truly wanted the food but I usually wasn’t hungry for it just thirsty.

Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does. One of my dietitian preceptors always told her clients to think of food and exercise separately if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s so easy to exercise and think you can splurge but in reality it’s so much easier to eat calories than to burn them off.

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It can get addicting. Calorie counting is not for everyone. Sometimes I found myself limiting what I ate to hit that goal number and then I would back off knowing my history with restriction. This is why it’s important to consult a dietitian for help especially if you have a history of disordered eating, an eating disorder, or just aren’t sure. While calorie counting can be harmful to some it can be helpful to others with chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Calorie counting works for me to bring my attention to where I’m using my calorie “budget” as my friend likes to say. I’ve noticed over the past month that I eat the most when I’m out with friends socially eating or drinking and that’s when I would want to not be strict. The other times are when I don’t drink enough water so you better believe that’s my goal for August!

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