Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Count Your Calories

If you remember awhile back when I started my weight loss journey, I wrote a post about calorie counting. I stayed pretty strong for a long time but when I got pneumonia a few months ago and had to take a hiatus from exercising, my diet suffered. I made a lot of 'not-so-great' choices which led to me gaining 10 lbs. ARGH! This past month, however, I've jumped back into calorie counting and I'm doing pretty well. For those of you who want to eat healthier but don't know where to start, here are five tips to get you on the right track:

1. Record what you eat every single day. Being aware of what goes into your mouth is a step toward making healthier choices. I use as my daily food journal. You can set-up your profile with your weight loss goals (setting a specific daily calorie goal) and keep track of the percentage of protein, sugar, carbs, fat, sodium, etc. you eat each day. VERY, VERY helpful.

2. Try to eat 3- 400 cal meals each day (give or take a little on the calories, depending on what your goals are). This is important for many reasons, one of them being that if you eat small breakfasts and huge dinners, that means more calories entering into your body that are not getting worked off at the end of the day. Don't forget one or two low cal snacks in-between each meal. Don't starve yourself. If you're hungry, eat a little snack (apple wedges, high in fiber and filling, or cucumber slices, lettuce-turkey wraps, etc.)

3. When you eat out (and you know you will at some point), know where you will be going in advance and check out the menu and nutritional facts online before you head out. Know what you plan to eat even before you get there so you won't be tempted when looking at the menu to order something that sounds good, but is not in your 'calorie budget'. (I have eaten out a couple times this past month and posted what I chose below. I loved already knowing what I was going to order even before I stepped foot into the restaurant.)

4. PORTION CONTROL. This is a HUGE one. Ben, my 7 year old son LOVES chicken fettuccine alfredo and usually asks me to make it at least once or twice a month. This is a killer for me. It's hard making something that I know isn't exactly the 'healthiest' meal on the planet for my family, but when it's a favorite it's hard to say no. So, it is okay to eat things once in awhile that are not super healthy, just use your head and eat smaller portions. Fill up more on fresh veggies. Drink a lot of water in-between bites. You CAN eat 400 cals of fettuccine alfredo. Yes, it won't fill your plate, but you know what... it's not supposed to! (you know how much butter alone is in that meal!) Watch your portions.

5. Find healthy foods that are low in calories but still filling. This is something I'm constantly working on, finding foods I really enjoy that fill me up but don't break my 'calorie bank.' Here are some food ideas you might want to try:

1. Private Selection Smoked Honey Turkey (wrap slice of turkey in a piece of lettuce, add a bit of cilantro, about 30 cals, yummy snack)
2. Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidants Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (130 cals)
3. Whole Wheat Toast (spread 1 tsp. peanut butter, and sliced half banana, approx. 170 cals)
4. Strawberry-Banana Smoothie (blend 2-3 strawberries, 1/2 banana, 1/4 C. 100% apple juice, and approx. 10 ice cubes)
5. Yoplait White Chocolate Strawberry Yogurt (only 100 calories, great snack)
6. Yoplait Fat Free Light Banana Creme Pie Yogurt (110 cals, yum!)
7. Extra Polar Ice Gum (1/2 stick = 5 cals)
8. Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn (about 30 cals/serving)
9. Ocean Spray Craisins (1/3 C = 138 cals)
10. Sliced cucumber (Ksenia's idea, and I love it too)
11. Apple sauce (Ksenia's idea, yum)

1. Healthy Choice Meals (most of these meals come with a main dish, side of vegetables, and dessert, very filling and only approx. 300 cals for the whole thing)
2. Progresso Light Beef Pot Roast Soup (160 cals/can)

3. Progresso Light Savory Vegetable Barley Soup (120 cals/can)
4. TastyWok All Natural Orange Chicken w/Brown Rice (can buy at Costco, 1 serving = 410 cals)

5. DiGiorno Tuscan Style Chicken Crispy Flatbread Pizza (grilled chicken, spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes, garlic and a creamy red sauce, approx. 373 cals for 1/2 of the pizza) -Thanks, Karyn for introducing me to this on Sunday, yum!
6. Kirkland Milk Chocolate Weight Loss Shake (get them at Costco, 24 cans for $15.99, 230 calories/can, I like to drink them with a cooked egg and toast, 400 cal meal)

1. Dole American Salad w/tiny bit of Good Seasons Italian Dressing, crumbled hard boiled egg (approx. 150 cals)
2. Cocktail Shrimp w/Heinz Cocktail Sauce

1. Outback Steakhouse Grilled Chicken on the Barbie, Fresh Seasonal Vegetables (no butter), House Side Salad (no croutons, tiny bit of ranch on side, approx. 550 cals)
2. IHOP Blueberry Harvest Grain 'n Nut Combo (includes two pancakes and side of scrambled egg substitute, 570 calories)
3. Teriyaki Chicken Bowl w/Brown Rice at Rumbi (ask for extra veggies, 500 calories)
4. Chick-Fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad, no croutons (ate it with 1/4 packet of ranch, and a small fruit cup side, total calories for entire meal 225 calories)

Also, here is my 'old' list (but still a good one) of my favorite low cal foods I posted on 9.12.08:

1) fruits (watermelon, bananas, grapes)
2) grilled chicken (add lemon juice and a little garlic)
3) Wishbone Italian dressing spray (1 calorie/spray)
4) orange-banana smoothie (1 C. light orange juice, 1/2 banana, 8 ice cubes)
5) grilled salmon
6) vegetables (green beans, corn, asparagus)
7) fiber one breakfast bars
8) lean cuisines
9) McDonald's fruit parfait
10) oatmeal

PS If you want to add your own favorite yummy low cal ideas, post away.


Cristi said...

Great information! I have also used the Daily Plate at It is by far the best one I've seen, is very user-friendly, and it's free (Think watchers without paying for the membership)! It's a great idea if you don't know where to start, or to keep your diet consistent and on track. I need to start back up again.

Bethany said...

hey, got your blog address from the runners thread on babycenter. i just had #4 and have been in the same cycle you have been... overweight, pregnant, nursing, etc... for the last 6 years! time to focus on my health. anyway, i have a Ben as well (he's 4) and he loves to eat and loves alfredo as well. this is a great recipe:

not fat free, but not nearly as bad for you. i add chicken and peas to it.

i really hope things go well with your surgery. you're an inspiration. thank you.