I recently downloaded an app for my iPhone that tracks your eating and tells you how many calories each food item contains (and how many you need based on your height, weight-either current or goal & age). I did this mostly out of curiosity, but also because I have a couple of pairs of shorts that I never did get into last summer that I’d really like to wear again. The app (called Lose It!) has options for maintaining or losing weight (in .5 lbs/week increments up to 2 lbs/week) but no option to gain for those folks out there who are underweight. I think that might be a good addition. Anyway, I have found it to be a fascinating activity, tracking all of the food I put into my body and what the nutrition facts are for each item. Of course, I’m not that hard core, and the app is missing quite a few food items, so there’s a lot of estimating. Nate gives me a bit of crap every time we finish a meal and I start on the “do you think that was a cup of rice I just ate or a cup and a half?” I did take the time to actually measure a few things to get an idea of what’s what, but it’s not an exact science for me. I also downloaded another nutrition (LIVESTRONG) app that has a much larger data base of foods, so I’ll pop over there to look up items not in Lose It.
Last week at Nate’s birthday party, I went 2000 calories over my daily budget (ending out a week of 400 calories over budget days) and found myself back at the starting point (I’ve been at this for over a month now), but I’ve been good since then, and I’m back to where I was the week before already, so I think I was just weighing in at the wrong time of day and with an overfilled tummy. I’m not going to give out numbers, b/c no one really needs that many details, but I will tell you that for a small-framed 31 year-old woman of average height (and yes, 5’4.5″ is average, thank you very much) who is supposedly losing about a pound a week (but not completely, most likely due to a lack of hardcore-ness), I only get 1300 calories a day and that can go very quickly. Once I hit my target weight (which is really close, and if I don’t fit into my shorts at that weight, I suppose I’ll have to really start exercising rather than just counting calories because I’m not interested in weighing any less) I think I get 1500-1600 calories a day. I put my cousin in the tracker (she’s a good 12 years younger than I am), and she would get several hundred more calories just by being younger. Ah the joys of youth. 😉
The most interesting thing to me has been to gauge my reaction to the calorie count. At first I found that if the app said I could eat 200 more calories that day, I would go eat 200 calories worth of food (and often more because I would eat before I looked it up). I wasn’t necessarily hungry, I just knew I had 200 more free calories so I ate because I was “allowed.” I found I was eating a lot more cookies and other junk than usual, so I have now started paying attention to eating when I’m hungry rather than when my phone says I can which leaves some days over and some under and I’m okay with that. I’ve also noticed something about my eating habits that has nothing to do with the app, but was brought to my attention because in my aim to stay within the daily calorie budget, I have become more aware of each item I eat. Turns out, I eat out of a feeling of obligation.
I knew already that I have a habit of eating food that I’m afraid will go to waste if I don’t eat it (whether hungry or not or despite a lack of interest in the food). Far too often, I chose to eat food closer to its expiration date rather that what I really want because the thing I want would last until tomorrow (and I often will go back and eat what I really wanted in the first place because that’s what I wanted and I can’t stop thinking about that flavor which then leaves me over stuffed). Dumb, right (especially for someone with a vacuum sealer & a chest freezer). Well, now I have noticed that I will eat because people expect it of me. Say I go to someone’s house and I’m not hungry at all. If presented with food, I will attempt to politely turn it down, but I cave so easily to the smallest of pressures. I eat because it’s impolite not to eat. Then I end up feeling over-stuffed and disappointed that I stuffed my face with food I didn’t want because I was unwilling to stick to my guns with a polite “no thank you.”
I will also eat something I’m not that interested in because Nathan is eating it and it’s easier to just eat the same thing rather that go fish a different dish out of the freezer. He also dislikes a lot of our left overs (they’re left over for a reason, I suppose) that I either enjoy or am content to eat when nothing else strikes my fancy. I also prefer to eat in (despite my constant talk about my favorite restaurants) while Nathan enjoys eating out, but he hates to eat out alone. So rather than wait and eat what I want at home, I eat something out with him and then feel doubly guilty about wasting food at home and wasting money on something I didn’t really want.
I do enjoy food and love to try new foods, so a taste is one thing, but people seem to think I need to eat more (for some reason everyone misses the constant snacking. Of course, it may not count because my snacking involves lots of fruits and veggies and other healthy treats rather than candy and other junk food), so they work to convince me to have another serving and so often I acquiesce. If you met my family, you would know that we do have the ability to pack it on, and I would like to avoid that fate. So I’m going to do what I can to avoid eating when I’m not hungry and politely refuse foods I do not want to eat. Even if I don’t fit back into those shorts, at least I’ve learned a few lessons which should help me stay in the pants I have now. 🙂