After a weekend of summertime food splurges, I thought I would share with you all a post about counting. I think counting is, essentially, the key to maintaining a balanced diet. Counting what you ask? Whatever you want!
I have counted various things over time. I counted fat grams. I counted points in Weight Watchers. I counted servings according to the food pyramid. And I have, of course, counted calories. Counting forces you to be accountable (he he).
I turns out that I was - in my opinion - wrong to have focused on counting fat grams. Its true that, in general, a lower fat diet will be lower in calories...but I also find a low fat diet is less satisfying. I now aim for a 'regular fat' diet low in animal and saturated fats...but still keep tabs on how much overall fat I am taking in.
I found counting points in Weight Watchers very effective. And actually, to kick start my weight loss this time around, I again turned to Weight Watchers to drop the initial 10 pounds or so. I find counting points fairly mindless and easy to do. I stopped doing it because I found the points too restrictive for my calorie needs in weight lifting, but still, it is a great starting point. Also, as a side note, I never went to meetings and followed the plan online only.
I have also counted food servings and nutrients on www.mypyramidtracker.gov. I am actually currently counting calories and servings on this website. It has a few flaws, such as having a dairy requirement that doesn't take into account dairy substitutions. And the database lacks some essential foods. But it is free and breaks down all of your food choices into calories, vitamins, protein etc. And, similar to Weight Watchers, it keeps track of your daily exercise to compare to your caloric intake.
Lately I have also been counting sugar and sodium intake. Yeesh - this is a bit more troublesome...but basically if the food has nutrition facts, and I look at them, and the number seems high, I try not to eat it. If the food does not have nutrition facts, hopefully it came from a tree, or a vine, or some such natural source. This may not always work ... for example, yesterday I probably ate 4 handfuls of pretzel M&Ms ... hello sodium and sugar!! But at least I was aware of the sodium and sugar I was shoveling into my mouth.
The idea here is to count something - anything - that will make you more mindful of what you are eating and how much you are eating. I like online databases, but you could easily do this in a fun, pretty notepad too. Or a boring notepad - whatever. You could start by counting servings of water. And then servings of veggies maybe? Or how about noting down the amount of alcohol or sugared drinks you are taking in? I think a little bit of awareness goes a long way.