You guys almost have me convinced to log my food (something I've always avoided because of the time commitment). How long do you guys think you spend on it daily when you are doing it correctly?
Glad you set up an account - I was also very resistant - but if you actually do it, it somehow works.
I'll chime in to say that logging my food is the only thing that's really worked for me.
On most days, I don't think it takes more than 5 minutes, or even 10 minutes on days with new recipes, etc.
Here are the things that tend to trip me up when trying to log consistently:
1. Restaurant meals that are complicated and hard to log.
2. Parties or other situations where I have a lot of small amounts of different things that are a pain to log.
3. Days where I know I'm going over so I log breakfast and lunch and give up for the rest of the day.
I've found when I can push past these issues and really stay consistent, I'm most successful with my weight loss. A big part of the success is using the logging as meal planning. Mid-day I'll log my breakfast and lunch and then use that to plan what to eat for dinner to stay under my calorie amount and keep things well-balanced. It's also key for keeping portion sizes reasonable.
I agree completely that these have been and continue to be challenges. What I do:
1. For restaurant food, I find equivalent meals, erring on the higher calorie side. I use a lot of Sodexo meals. Applebees is another go-to for me.
2. @wintertell's photo idea is great especially for buffets and parties. Another thing I have done is keep a mental list in my head and as soon as I can, add some quick notes on my phone - eg 1pc sushi, 1/4 cup mashed potatoes, 1 serving roast beef, 2 lemon tarts. Then later that night (or the next day even), I sit and log it into MFP.
3. Dragging myself out of ostrich mode has to be the hardest to do. Sometimes I will just do a quick add of some high calorie count like 1500-2000 cals and work with it. Sometimes, I just have to let it go and do a clean sweep.
One thing about logging for restaurants or parties .... I just take a photo of my meal and log it later, if I'm around folks where it would be awkward and conspicuous to log it. I also will look at the menu for a restaurant, choose what I want to eat and then pre-log it in my tracker. That method has the bonus of choosing whether you stay within your calorie range or not before you leave the house.
Logging doesn't bother me, so I do it. I like the data on my behavior and would miss being able to look back and see trends without it. Like I said before, this comes from my habit of logging purchases in YNAB. I know it has been super useful for me in the past, and I expect this data will hold the same benefits. I'm telling myself to get used to it, because if I want to keep the weight off, I will have to do it for the rest of my life to stay mindful. And that's not depressing, because I'm planning on keeping the weight off : )
I've done the choosing what I want to eat before I go to the restaurant too. It DOES work!
As for permanently logging, I'm still hopeful I can stop eventually. Last summer, I stopped logging and was able to keep the weight off for months (staying mindful, counting cals in my head, and weighing myself daily). Then I let myself go for just 2 short months from Nov - Dec and piled 10 pounds on quickly :(
Anyway, all in all, I am a big fan of My Fitness Pal. Some of my favorite tricks:
- recent food and my meals are very helpful
- try to only choose food with a green checkmark next to it. This means it has been verified. There are a LOT of inaccurate food in the database.
- crosscheck ingredients you are not sure of. I use the USDA database (this also helps you learn how food from the database is listed in MFP - I trust these the most) as well as other calorie counting websites.
- Break your meals down to the individual ingredients whenever possible for more accuracy. I will often create a recipe but if it is something like a sandwich or a salad, I just input each ingredient separately. e.g. 1 egg, 70 calories, 2 slices bread, 100 calories, 1 tbsp mayo, 94 calories = 264 calories
- use a food scale. Many people do well without - but if you are stalled or like number crunching or simply feel your goal is to eat as much as possible while still losing weight, a food scale was a game changer.
- create recipes. Its an extra step but it is worth it if you want accuracy - especially if you learn how to use a food scale in conjunction with this.
I'm getting strict about logging again and boy it has helped me today. Especially since it is Paczki Day. I limited myself to half of one, skipped breakfast and had a low cal lunch to make up for it. Plus last night I was dying to continue snacking after having a good dinner but rather than giving in, told my DH, whined for a while, and DIDN'T EAT!