I saw a banner ad online today that simply said: Do you know how many calories you had for breakfast today? Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.
I wonder... Does that put me in the minority?
I talk to people I know about their weight and eating habits. I'm not a registered dietitian yet; but I'm learning and people have so many questions so I gladly share what I am learning. The majority of people I talk to want to lose weight and they want me to tell them the magic formula for weight loss.
I wish it were that easy, don't you?
I have a habit of answering questions with questions. The first step in making changes is to figure out what you are currently doing. We can't tweak something if we don't know what that something is yet. In fact, one of the first steps when you meet with a registered dietitian will probably be to keep a food journal for a number of days - make no changes to what you eat at all, just write down what you currently eat. So, one of my first questions is about food intake. How many calories are you eating and what types of foods? The usual answer regarding calories: I don't know. Okay. That's fair. Not everyone is quite as preoccupied with food and health as I am.
Let's find out then, shall we?
There is usually resistance the suggestion to track food intake. It seems so impossible and overwhelming. Before I tracked food, there was no way I could tell you how many calories were in a banana or a hamburger or a chicken Caesar salad. It seems like a lot of work to not only write down everything you eat, but also to have to figure out how many calories are in everything. Who has time for that?? Perhaps also, it's a little too personal, too revealing. I mean, I sure don't want to fess up when I dig into some Moosetracks ice cream! But, I do dig into it on occasion, and you can on occasion and still lose weight, and wow, is it ever good! Maybe it's even too embarrassing. Will people wonder what you are doing over there, scribbling furiously on a notepad before you eat?
Here's the magic formula, and you have heard this before, in a person with no underlying disease affecting metabolism, to lose weight burn up more calories than you take in. Simply: eat less (to a point) and move more. If you don't know how many calories you are eating, how can you figure out what changes to make to your diet to get good weight loss results?
It's not magic, it's math.
I'll tell you this too, if it weren't for free food trackers online, I probably wouldn't be too eager to track my food intake either. Lucky for us, there are easy to use, free Web sites. So, start there. I recommend and use Sparkpeople.com; but there are many others including mypyramidtracker.gov and fitday.com. Check them out. Join up. Build your list of "favorites" to make it easier to track the foods you eat regularly and stop making excuses!
I'm begging you. I don't want to be the only one who proclaims, "YES! As a matter of fact I DO know how many calories I had for breakfast!" I want you to stand up and shout with me.