Overcoming Food Tracking Challenges: A Roadmap to Successful Results
July 21, 2023
July 21, 2023
- Eyeballing it – that looks to be about a cup → well, who really knows what a cup looks like and my guesses varied greatly so my calories varied greatly too
- Using a measuring cup, ½ cup, teaspoon, etc. → even when I leveled off whatever I was measuring, it varied how much was actually in the measuring cup
- All or nothing thinking – I know I’ll go out to eat & I won’t know exactly the calorie count so why start at all or why track anything today?
- Perfectionism – I can’t stand going on any app and finding MANY options for the same exact brand/food. I want this perfect if I’m going to do it – please don’t show me 5 different nutrition ‘facts’ for the same exact item.
- We love to cook and we don’t repeat many recipes – ugh, I have to enter every thing in new.
- Mom loves to cook and share food with us – what do I do with that?
- With prior calorie deficit attempts, I used a food scale – weighed everything in ounces but then had to convert ounces to pounds… grrrr (I gave my food scale to a friend & when she no longer needed it, she & the universe gave it back to me)
This time, I realized my food scale also has grams – maybe that would be easier? BINGO! It is easier! Why? Because almost all labels have in parenthesis the serving size in grams. Now, instead of ½ cup of grape nuts, I know the serving size is 58g. Grams is something that I can truly measure repeatedly and consistently and know what I am getting. I don’t have to think about 16 ounces in a pound. It’s all in grams and it is so much easier!
- Ah, that leads me to serving sizes. This is a bit embarrassing but, in the past, I thought if I was going to eat something while tracking food, for example grape nuts, I’d look at the box, it says serving size ½ cup (58g) so that is what I should eat. I’d eat it and before my next meal I’d be starving and angry that I wanted to eat more but couldn’t.
NEWS FLASH! Knowing the serving size is data BUT YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN WHAT THE SERVING SIZE IS! The important part is knowing that 58g of grapenuts is 200 calories, 7g of fiber, and 6g of protein so if I eat twice the serving size (116g), that would be 400 calories, 14g fiber, and 12g protein and THAT’S OK as long as it fits in with my calorie range for the day.
- It still seems like some math, and it can be. Luckily, our phones have easy-to-access calculators! If you use a food tracking app, once you get the food entered, then you can change the serving size and the calories, fiber, and protein will automatically change accordingly. That may be enough for you and that’s great. If so, track it there, have fun, and move on! If that hasn’t worked for you, read on…
- Unfortunately, in regards to food tracking apps, many find them helpful but I wasn’t actually learning much with them. I entered the food. The numbers were what they were. I didn’t really get the big picture. Yes, I learned to quickly enter the food. Yes, it was way better than not tracking, simply because it was more of a pain to eat when I had to track it. Yes, I had a total calorie count and could sum it for the week, compare it to my weight change, and know if I was in a calorie deficit or not. But when I wasn’t, other than eat less, I really had no clue what exactly to eat less of.
- When I wrote it in the notebook, I knew exactly what was going into the numbers as the day progressed. I knew the total from breakfast and what went into it. I knew if I went big on a snack how that would decrease my dinner size. I could see it happening on paper!
- I could see when I chose to have a sandwich with two slices of bread at 120 calories each that I was adding 240 calories to my meal. Nothing ‘wrong’ with the bread, knowledge is power and I could then decide if I had 240 calories in my budget or if I would make the same sandwich with one slice of bread to cut the calories in half. I could decide if I wanted the 240 calories with the bread or if that day I wanted it elsewhere.
- I could also easily see and compare one day to the next and compare one food to another. I just couldn’t figure that out in the food tracking apps that I had previously tried.
- For example, kielbasa versus tuna steak. Both protein – fantastic, eat those! However, there’s a big difference in your bang for the buck with kielbasa versus tuna steak. 180 calories of kielbasa weighs approximately 56g and has about 7g protein. 184 calories of tuna steak weighs approximately 142g and has 41g protein. I can eat a much bigger piece of tuna steak (more than 2x as big) for the same calories and get more than 6x the protein! That means more energy, more satisfaction, and more protein to build up those muscles.
- If you are thinking this may be you, give it a try! I did it for three weeks – you can try it for a day, three days, a week, or whatever feels good to you. I’ll put down below a few things to help you if you decide to go the pen & paper route.
- This challenge is all about consistency. Yes, weight loss is a goal but really, this is about taking consistent steps everyday that point me towards that bigger goal of eating healthy. I frequently hear from the coaches that you don’t have to be perfect every week and that’s good, because I’m far from it!
- For my weekly calorie, fiber, and protein goals:
- Not even 10 out of 21? That doesn’t sound all that good. But, guess what? My inbody measurement tells a different story.
- That means, even though I am nowhere near perfect, I am in a calorie deficit and I am seeing results. My weight is decreasing at a healthy pace. I continue to go out to eat and have ice cream with friends. I have not been hungry or angry and I’ve had the energy to push myself even harder in the gym, blowing my previous PRs out of the water! I’ve had more energy than I’ve had for years. I am now under both of the pesky 200lb AND 50% body fat mental/physical lines in the sand and it feels fantastic!
- 3.4 pounds doesn’t sound like much and I agree! Coach Beth recently reminded me though what 3.4 lbs can look like. That’s more than a 3lb bag of onions! That 13.6 sticks of butter! Think about how annoying it would be to have to carry around a 3lb bag of onions ALL day long, how much strain it would put on my knees and joints and how good it would feel to put it down! This month alone, in 3 weeks, hitting only 4 to 8 out of 21 of my targets, I put those onions down and no longer have to carry them! I put down 13.6 STICKS of butter! It’s no wonder I feel fantastic!
- For everything at home, I put a bowl on the scale, turn it on, it should read 0g with the bowl on it. (If not, learn how to clear the scale to 0g.) Make sure you are in grams, not ounces.
- I then pour whatever it is into that bowl. The g on the scale is how many grams of that food you are about to eat. You can either pour in how many grams you want (based on how many calories, fiber, protein you want) OR you can pour in what you want by sight & then see how many grams that is and calculate from there. I do both depending on what food it is I’m pouring in. If you eat the same things each day, this gets easy quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t, but it works anyway. Write the # of grams from the scale in your notebook.
- Check the label. In parenthesis, for almost everything, you’ll find serving size in grams.
- For example, grape nuts: serving size ½ cup (58 g) = 200 calories, 7g fiber, 6g protein
- Calculate how much you are eating. For example, 100g of grape nuts. That’s 100g divided by a serving size of 58g (100/58 = 1.7x the amount of a serving size). I always know I’m dividing in the right direction if it makes sense. 100g is going to be bigger than 58g so the amount will be greater than 1. For comparison, if I had 25 g of grape nuts, 25/58 = .4x, less than one, that makes sense, I had just under half a serving. (one would be a full serving)
- Once you know the serving size that you had, you just multiply that by the # of calories, fiber, and protein per serving size on the label. So, with 100g of grape nuts, that’s 1.7x a serving size. That’s 1.7 x 200 calories = 340 calories; 1.7 x 7g fiber = 11.9g fiber, 1.7 x 6g protein = 10.2g protein.
- For our recipes, I get a grand total of everything I put in, for instance, everything that goes into the crockpot. For example, our famous meat goo with all the ingredients totals 4280g, 6873 calories, 23g fiber, and 410g protein. I know that because I added up all of the nutritional ingredients from the packages as I entered them into the pot. This does take time but once I know it, I have this data all week as we eat this meal. I also don’t have to put it into individual packages in the fridge and hope my husband doesn’t eat the measured ones! When I serve out to myself, I measure it. 402g in a bowl I can calculate to be about .1 of the total crockpot (402g divided by 4280g) so I am eating .1x the total calories, fiber, and protein and that’s what I log. (total calories 6873 multiplied by .1 = 687.3 calories, 23g fiber x .1 = 2.3g fiber, and 410g protein x .1 = 41g protein). I can also easily decide that this meal should be smaller and serve out fewer grams.
- When Mom sends over something to eat, it is also a guess. I google whatever it is and, like with restaurants, just pick one and go with it. Most likely, it is wrong, but I write it down, total it up, and move on.
- When I go out, I can’t weigh anything. I’m being mindful of what I’m ordering, mindful of what I’ve already eaten that day, mindful of how hungry I am (that’s a new one!), and order accordingly. I then google ‘nutrition facts xyz’ for whatever I ordered and write it down in my notebook. It’s wrong, I’m sure of it, but it’s close enough (and I know that because I’m seeing results.) So, I log it and move on.
After two years of contemplation, Royan walked through Hybrid’s doors in 2018. Even though she was battling cancer & a slipped disk, walking through that door to ask for help was the hardest thing she had ever done. The Hybrid team of coaches took it from there and the rest is history! Royan is now a Hybrid member as well as a team member, supporting Hunter and Dusty and all of the coaches as needed.