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I’ve been tracking my daily calorie intake for a while now and a few things are for certain:
- It’s hard to figure out how many calories certain foods have.- for example when eating out or enjoying a homemade meal.,
- Once the tracking is a habit it’s easy to remember to do.
- Planning calories for much of the day helps a lot. I enter the planned foods (and calories) for lunch and snacks often before 8 a.m.
- Evenings can be the hardest time to stay on track.
Since it can be easy to go over my calorie goal in the evenings, I try saving calories for the evening. Usually if I have around 1,200 calories left by the time I get home, around 5 or 6 p.m., that’s usually enough for the rest of the day. If I’m under 900 calories at that time of the day I can be in trouble.
Why can it be harder in the evenings? For me there are several reasons:
- Eating out of boredom.
- Dinner often has been the biggest meal. Perhaps my body still remembers that?
- Is there an old expectation that we eat while watching TV? Maybe.
- We are just relaxing and there’s time to think about food and eating.
- Everyone else is eating, too.
- The newborn got me up and is eating, too.
- I didn’t eat well throughout the day and now my body is screaming for more (and better) food.
And some of the things I’ve done about it:
- When I feel like it want to eat out of boredom: I find something to do, maybe exercise again, have a glass or two of water or write a blog post.
- I often now “skip” dinner and just have a much smaller meal that time of the day. This could be a yogurt or two, a protein shake or a sandwich.
- Ask other family members to buy only treats that you don’t like. My six-year-old and wife love mint ice cream. I can’t stand it. I encourage them to buy that for a treat – over chocolate chip, which I love.
- Keep calories for at least 1-2 snacks later in the evening.
- Don’t “waste” calories on alcohol – especially when running low on calories for the day.
Keeping track of calories and hitting daily goals can be a dance. Sometimes we might not hit them, but it’s possible to achieve daily goals and lose weight over the long haul.
Another tip: Have one binge day a week, where you don’t keep track of calories at all and can eat whatever you’d like. Now, I would only recommend this if the other six days met calorie goals.
How to keep track of calories? I use the MyFitnessPal app.