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7 Tips For Making Calorie Counting Easier

Aw, it's not that bad! And it works, providing you can stick to it long enough. Here are some tricks I've learned along the way:

1) When you record your calories, use four columns:
  1. time eaten (this is handy if you want to compare your progress to previous days)
  2. food item (this makes you more aware of the type of calories you've eaten, and more inclined to make healthy choices, especially if other people will see your log ;)
  3. serving calories (this is useful for reviewing what you can cut back on if you're having trouble making your target)
  4. running daily total calories (shows you where you are in relation to your daily goal)

2) Set flexible goals. You are more likely to want to continue the next day if your target is somewhat forgiving. For example, "between 1,300 and 1,700" is better than a target of "1,500" because if you eat 1,600 you'll feel as though you've failed with a target of 1,500 (whereas that would have been success with a target of 1,300-1,700). If you feel as though you've failed, getting motivated to try again the next day is much harder.

3) Designate a handy spot to keep the tools you need:
  • log book & pen
  • measuring spoon
  • measuring cup
  • calculator (for accurate portion values, if you're eating an amount that isn't the same as indicated on a label)
  • calorie reference book, or shortcut on your desktop to a site that gives food caloric values
If you can't find the measuring spoon, for example, you're more likely to free-pour the cream for your coffee. Free pour = over pour = miscount.

4) Eat protein - it's very filling, and satisfies your hunger longer. I was/am a carboholic, and my most successful calorie counting stints have been when I've incorporated some lean protein into my day (tuna, chicken).

5) Make unprocessed and raw veggies "free". This is an easy way to incorporate some valuable nutrients into your day, and veggies are relatively low in calories. Write them down in your log, with a zero next to them. That way you have the positive reinforcement of a written record of having eaten them.

If you're concerned that the small amount of calories will add up, consider this: hunger is often not about calories, it's more about your body seeking nutrients. If you eat lots of raw veggies you'll get more of those nutrients, and may not be as hungry for extra calories. Note: they must be unprocessed and raw. Canned veggies, for instance, don't count.

6) Drink water blah blah blah but water's borrring... Try this: use a fancy glass (wine glass, etc.), add ice cubes and slices of citrus (or something). Getting water in me is a struggle, until I take a tall, unmarked beer sleeve, add two slices each of lemon and lime, and about four ice cubes. Then it follows me everywhere and I refill it several times.

7) Have sugar free gum handy. Sometimes you just wanna chew something!

To be continued...

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