Much like making a shopping list and being more efficient when going to the grocery store, it makes a great deal of sense to do what is almost the corollary when trying to lose weight. That is, track your food intake.
It should be self-evident, although perhaps it's not -- decreased caloric intake means there is the potential (although, sadly, not the guarantee -- bodies can be awfully stubborn things, I'm sorry to say) for weight loss.
And how the heck you gonna know that you've got decreased caloric intake unless you actually keep track of what you've been putting into your mouth?
Also -- and many folk who have weight issues have done this -- have you ever had a day where you forget what you've eaten when it's all said and done? Or, perhaps, you started off with a full bag of chips in front of you. And then, suddenly, it was half or all gone? Where did it all go?
Furthermore, there is the very real possibility that you really are getting the right number of calories, but that you're not getting enough nutrition. A slice of chocolate cake might have (I'm making this number up) 200 calories, and so might a baked potato. Which one is going to have more vitamins and fiber?
You might be a nibbler, too. You might finish your kids' sandwiches, or grab a piece of cooked chicken to nosh on while you slice up the rest and toss it onto salads for the family's dinner. Or a few chips might sneak onto your plate, or you might not be passing by the candy dish at work without grabbing some fortification.
And all of those calories, they add up. And it's so easy to forget that you've consumed them, until you look at a scale. Or you might be in complete denial (I was). I eat right, you might be saying to yourself, and perhaps you are, during regular meals. But the in-between snacking could be completely out of control. Those calories -- they, too, count.
This is where tracking comes in. It's got a twofold purpose. One is to see what you've eaten at the end of the day or even a day or two removed. Did you fill up on empty calories? Did you intake a lot of cholesterol? Another purpose is, as you go through the day, to see what you've got room for. One thing I do is to use my numbers as a guideline for what I can eat later. If the plan is to go out for dinner, I try to plan the day around it. I'll look up the menu online and, if the calorie counts are available, I'll use that information for a base. If the counts are not available, I'll total up the numbers as best as I can (usually, even if calorie counts are not available, at least some of the ingredient information is, so I'll know that the turkey burger has a turkey burger, a bun, ketchup and something on the side). Then I'll work my way backwards and figure out what lunch, breakfast and my snack should be, in order to keep my numbers in line. I want a certain number of calories, I want a certain proportion of fat, carbs and protein. I don't want too much sodium. I want to be sure I get enough iron and calcium. And I also want to have variety in my life. Boiled chicken all the time is as dull as it sounds (and a bland, unvarying diet like that is not only deficient in many nutrients, it usually won't help you to lose weight).
Not only can you get information on the above-mentioned nutrients, you can also keep track of how much water you're drinking. Also -- their tracker is FREE!!!
For more information, see: Sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition