A year (!) at FitDay.

For a while now I’ve been entering (almost) everything I eat at fitday.com. And all my exercise. And my weight, every day. I just realized that Saturday was my one year anniversary.

I don’t even think of it as weird or a chore anymore, just something I do.

I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last year by restricting my caloric intake. FitDay is a relatively painless way to count calories, but its real value, I think, is that it also tallies nutrients. I’ve come to understand the true meaning of “junk” food: food that will put a big dent in your calorie allowance, without providing any important nutrients. Eat too much of it, and you have to make a choice between blowing your calorie limit for the day, or just taking the hit in nutrients and eating rabbit food the next day.

I’ve also learned that I have to work to get enough calcium in my diet. I thought my diet was pretty healthy before, and I was mostly right, but when I kept coming up short—really short—on calcium, that was a real eye-opener. The number one reason I’m doing this whole diet/exercise thing is that I want to be healthy and active, even as get older. Osteoporosis is not conducive to that goal! Everybody says to just pop a supplement, but I’m afraid that psychologically it would just give me permission to eat foods that are not only low in nutritents, but also low in fiber and high in saturated fat, so I prefer a balanced-diet approach. I see many gallons of nonfat yogurt in my future.

I should reach my weight loss goal next week, and I should probably lose another 5 pounds or so as a buffer. But I’m uncertain about whether to continue with FitDay after that. It has become a crutch, I admit. It helps me resist the urge to snack, knowing that I have to enter what I eat and be accountable. And I’m lazy enough sometimes that I figure a snack isn’t worth the effort of entering it. :slight_smile: In a broader sense, I use it like the “eat watch” in the Hacker’s Diet since my body/brain tends to give wildly untrustworthy information about whether I’m hungry, or full. Having an objective count of the calories I’ve eaten today lets me make a more rational decision about when to start and stop eating.

However, I don’t think it’s realistic to think that I’ll be using FitDay (or a similar tool) for the rest of my life. Ultimately I’ll need to learn some diet-management skills that don’t require internet access if I want to maintain a healthy weight in the long term

It’s a great site, but I find searching for foods to be a pain. Say I just drank some milk and want to enter it. So I search for “milk.” I get:

Milk Duds
Milk Bones
Milk of Magnesia
Milk of Human Kindness
Human Breast Milk
Milky Way Bar
Snickers Bar
Three Musketeers
The Man in the Iron Mask

“The Man in the Iron Mask” :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, that’s definitely a problem. I’m a whiz at searching the database, after a year, as you can imagine. For milk, the magic words are “milk cow’s fluid.” That’s a bit cumbersome to type out, but the Saved Form Information in Firefox is a lifesaver.

You can’t search for M&Ms, you have to browse under Snacks and Sweets : Candy and Gum.

If you don’t remember if the entry you want has “strawberry” or “strawberries” you can enter “strawberr”, which will find either. And if you don’t feel like typing out “peanut butter,” “pea butt” works just as well.

I gotta million little tricks.

I had the same experience as tdn. Does entering stuff get easier over time, as it “learns” your typcial foods? I noticed there is a “recent food” drop down. Does it eventually make entering food faster?

I’ve got, like, three. I figured out the milk thing, but meats still boggle.

Like chicken.

No, not

Fat, chicken
Chicken soup
Chicken kiev
Chicken skin
Chicken feet
Chicken curry
Almond chicken
Chicken, ground
Chicken nuggets
Kung pao chicken
Chicken rice soup
Chicken cornbread
Chicken gumbo soup

The recent food lists the last 40 foods you’ve entered, but it’s no smarter than that. It’s convenient for leftovers, and and things you eat just about every day.

Otherwise, like I said, you learn the magic search terms and tricks for the stuff you eat often. E.g. “Grape jelly” doesn’t exist. It’s “Jelly, all flavors” and “jel” gives the same search results as “jelly.”

Another tip for entering foods quickly: Rather than adding a food, then entering the amount, then adding the next food… Instead add everything you’ve eaten, then go through and adjust the measurements on each food and click “Save Changes” just once.

The most annoying thing, IMHO, is the Custom Food list. It lists the first 40 custom foods alphabetically. So if I want to find something alphabetically above “Dressing, Raspberry Vinegarette”, I have to scroll to the bottom of the Custom Food list, click “Show All Custom Foods”, then use my browser’s Find function on a list of every Custom Food I’ve ever entered. For this reason, and also because entering all the data on a new food is a pain, at this point I almost always just approximate using items from the database, as long as the calorie count is in the right ballpark. I don’t break down and do a Custom Food unless there’s nothing at all similar in the database and/or I’m likely to eat the new food more than, like, three times. I figure that half the battle is entering at all, and any innacuracies usually go in my favor, because I’m typically approximating something homemade from fresh ingredients with something prepackaged so I’m probably getting more nutrients and less sodium than entered.

And, yeah, meat’s a pain. Searching for meat rarely works for me. Usually I end up using the Browse feature. Meatballs or dumplings, lunch meat, and ethnic food can be a real challenge. (But, by gum, if you’re eating Puerto Rican food, you’re all set. :confused: Whoever first set up the data base must have been Puerto Rican. )

So it’s like every other diet journal I’ve used: eventually the UI kills the functionality.

I’m going to create a good UI for tracking food and make a billion dollars. :smiley:

I’ll be first in line for a copy!

Thanks to this thread I signed up to FitDay. It’s pretty cool, though I’m having problems with my metric/imperial conversion. But I’ll live.

However, I really need to know what “NS” and “NSF” mean. I had a slice of ham today. Nowhere can I find anything like “1 slice cured ham no fat”. It’s all “1 cup Ham NS fat” and stuff like that. Any assistance?

I am not 100% sure–but I think NSF has to do with whether or not it has a nutritonal facts label. It seems to me that when I click on something with a NSF it has the nutrional facts label there instead of a calculated nutrional facts.

But that doesn’t jibe with NSF–unless they are saying this is info that comes from the National Science Foundation? :slight_smile:

But the website has some odd things that aren’t very clear that is for sure!

Also, I ate about two handfuls of nuts today (brazils and almonds) and it says that these contributed 600 calories, most of which was pure fat. It’s now saying 60% of my calories today came from fat - 80% of which came from the nuts. It also says one egg contains 270+ Kc. Can those be right?

Isn’t it “NFS” (not “NSF”)? I take that to mean “not further specified” as to type. Thus, NS=not specified. Very broad, encompassing terms. As in “butter, NFS” as opposed to “Butterfinger”. I don’t like to use NFS designations unless there is no other choice (as in the butter example above).

Oh yeah, it’s NFS. Must have got muddled with NSFW…

Huh. I never knew what NFS stood for, just took it to be “not sure.”

Whaa? When I look it up in the databae, “Egg, whole, raw” in the quantity “1 large” has 74.5 calories. “Egg, whole, fried,” “1 large,” is 95 calories. Did you let it default to 1 cup? A single egg is less than half a cup.

I’m not to surprised about the nuts, though. They’re calorie-dense little bastards. If “a couple handfuls” is about a cup, total, that’s gonna be a lot of calories and a lot of fat grams. That’s exactly the sort of revelations you have when you start carefully tracking what you eat. “Bbbut I thought X was healthy!” Yeah, and a fuckton of calories. I never sit down with more than 1/4 cup of nuts, anymore. Usually I make do with a couple tablespoons.

Bread’s the one that kills me. Gawd, I love bread, but them slices add up fast.

I use Fitday to maintain my weight loss. Keeps me accountable, helps me to make sure I’m meeting all my beneficial nutrition goals (enough healthy fats, enough protein, etc). I lost around 70 lbs and maintaining a food diary is one of my maintenance tools. I don’t want to ever eat blindly like I used to. I may not use fitday forever, but I will always keep a food journal. A very small number of people lose weight and actually keep it off, I want to do everything in my ability to be one of the long term maintainers. I’m a three time big weight loss loser, I want this time to be the time I finally succeed for good.

I’ve used Fitday since the end of March last year (2005), and I’ve lost about 55lbs.

I find that you quickly get used to the foods that you use more often, and can remember the keywords that will help you find it faster. Eg: “cow milk fluid skim” and “chicken breast broiled” and “cucumber pickle” (because just entering “pickle” will bring up pages and pages of different pickled items).

I also have added tons of custom food items, by typing off the nutrition labels for the foods I buy most frequently and use all the time. Also, many fast food restaurants have nutritional information on their websites, and occasionally if I can’t find a food in Fitday’s database I’ve been able to track it down elsewhere. www.calorieking.com and www.nutritiondata.com have excellent, large food databases, and I can enter it as a custom food in Fitday.

Someone mentioned those pesky imperial to metric conversions and converting different types of measurements. I found the Google has a built-in conversation feature really helps in this regard. You just type it into the Google search bar and it automatically calculates the result

260g in oz = 9.34759992 ounces

3tsp in oz (or 3 teaspoons in ounces) = 0.5 US fluid ounces

Unfortunately this only helps a bit, since we metricky types are a step further removed from the US: we use weight, not volume, to measure the vast majority of culinary solids, and really only use volume for liquids. Thus when it says e.g “a cup of brazil nuts” or “1/4 cup butter” I have no idea how to relate to that, short of doing a lot of research.

That’s definitely a drawback of FitDay’s database. I have a food scale, and for the foods that are listed by weight, it’s so easy! You just put your plate on the scale, hit “tare”, add the food, and read off the weight.

I don’t necessarily want to come off as shilling or evangelizing for FitDay. It certainly has its drawbacks. I never intended to use it for such a long period of time, but now I’m accustomed to it.

Glory, if you don’t mind my asking, how long have you been using it?

I don’t know about that. I lost my weight through Weight Watchers, and I’ve seen a lot of people on the boards there that hit their goal, stopped journaling, and gained the weight back. Personally, I would keep using the tool available to you, but maybe figure out a way to wean yourself to something where you can keep track of your food, but in a way that you design for yourself? An excel spreadsheet with your own customizations could be a start point, maybe?

Susan

I dunno, I don’t think a spreadsheet would be any simpler. FitDay’s pretty easy. I just want to find some way to internalize the process, ultimately, so that I don’t have to keep lists and measure portions. I mean, why is it so hard to look at a lump of food and say, “Yes, that is a reasonable thing for me to eat,” or “No, that is not something I should be eating right now.”?

Ya know how they say you have to change your relationship with food if you want to lose weight and keep it off?

Well, FitDay for me is a kind of a filter that I look at food through, and it lets me see it in terms of numbers: calories, mg of calcium, etc. But if I take away that filter, and spend a day, or a few days, off, then damned if I’m not back to my old, stupid habits—munching because I’m bored or unhappy, going back for seconds when I don’t need them just 'cause it tastes so good, indulging in what should be occasional treats more and more frequently . . . Its as though if I don’t see the hard numbers, I can’t get any kind of rational grip on what the food I’m putting into my mouth means for my health.

So I haven’t really changed how I feel about food fundamentally, only how I look at it—and even for that I require a certain tool or, should I say, a crutch.

I was thinking about just going to a pencil-and-paper food journal, possibly, and see if I can train myself to rationally assess my choices: What is this, and how much is there? Why do I want to eat it? Is it healthy? If not, what’s the last unhealthy thing I ate? Should I really have another treat so soon? What have I eaten already today? What am I planning on eating later? Do I actually need/want to eat this?

I think I should be able to answer those questions without having a caloric and nutritional breakdown of everything that passes my lips. :confused:

I thought maybe I could phase myself over to the journal, try it a few days a week, then shift over so I was just keeping the journal, and only going back to FitDay once a week or so to enter a couple days from the journal and see what the calorie count looked like. And, you know, maybe, someday, I’ll be able to choose what I eat wisely, without having to keep a record.

I’m trying to remember, though, that having to keep a list of what I eat sucks, but it’s better than being going back to being overweight.

The other option would be to go back on the “Stop Eating Crap That’s Bad For You” diet, where I just don’t allow myself any special indulgences: no candy, no ice cream, no cheese, no french fries, no pizza, no burgers, no mayonnaise . . . From time to time I’d allow myself just a bit of luxury foods that aren’t “crap,” like really good dark chocolate, or a bit of really good cheese—but after a while, I can’t overindulge in that kind of stuff, because it makes me feel sick. It takes iron discipline, and I become a total pain in the ass to be around because I can’t f’n eat 90% of the readily-availalbe food in our society, but I’ve done it before, for four months. I did it then because I really had to get my weight down. I’m not sure if I could sustain it just for weight maintainance. But at least you don’t have to keep track of anything.

(Well, that was quite a post. I guess I’m dealin’ with some issues, here. Know what? The next asshole who tells me, “All you have to do to lose weight is eat less and exercise more,” I swear to Og, I’m gonna haul off and knock him on his kiester.)