My apologies if this has been covered in some of the threads on nutrition or weight loss, but I just dread the idea of wading through all of the possibilities to get at the answers I seek on this specific question.
How does one count calories, really?
When starting a healthy diet, most places reasonably suggest making small, realistic changes that you can follow, rather than setting yourself up for failure by jumping right into some extreme lifestyle change. Baby steps. Makes sense to me.
For instance, you might start by cutting out the fast food. Or you might try going from 2 big meals a day to 5-6 smaller ones. Or you might try avoiding soft drinks.
Ultimately, though, for any healthy diet, you want to be able to monitor your calorie intake. I’ve come across a number of sites than offer suggestions on how to do this.
Read the labels, carefully, and take note of the recommended serving size, multiplying it as needed to compare to how much of the thing you’re actually eating. Great. So, that’s good for all of those pre-packaged processed foods that we’re trying to avoid in the first place.
For foods you prepare yourself, there are a number of guides as to how many calories are, for instance, in a piece of chicken or some steamed asparagus. Again, taking care to compare different guides, and adjusting for portion sizes, is important. Also note how much butter is being used, or salad dressing, etc. Oh, and what about when my wife and I cook a meal, and I get the bigger share? Not only do we have to use measuring cups and spoons for all of the ingredients, instead of eyeballing it, but now we have to come up with some way to adjust our calculations according to me getting “the bigger half” of whatever we’ve cooked.
Restaurants, aside from fast food places, vary widely as to portion size and ingredients. Again, the charts and lists and tips for judging amounts of each item are available.
So here I am, with my scales and measuring cups and protractors and decks of playing cards, and my twelve-pound notebook of calorie guides, and my food journal, and my scientific calculator, and my Excel spreadsheet that I spent weeks getting to work, for each and every single time I ingest anything. And I’m thinking, how the hell is this not an extreme lifestyle change that I will never implement, much less follow through on?
So, how does one count calories, really?