This question remains hard to answer unequivocally… on one hand keeping tabs on what you eat may significantly reduce the amount of “empty” calories ingested during the day – especially through foods and drinks that seem harmless. However, do you know your caloric intake as you snack, drink coffee or “fix” yourself before lunch? How about all the late night munching?
On the other hand if you think about everything you eat – will you start obsessing and therefore crave foods you may not even want or need? Hard to tell. Nutritionist and dietitians explain that eating the right nutrients and providing your body with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats and the right fats (nuts, healthy oils, etc.) will stave off cravings for “bad” foods. I tend to agree.
When I eat right and exercise regularly it seems that my body just knows what to crave. Salads, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. If fatigued and sedentary, my body wants to indulge in all the worst (I get starved for breads!!!!).
So what exactly is the compromise? To start with, I believe recording one single week-long food log can help you detect eating patterns and tendencies that sabotage your dietary success. With or without a certified dietitian there are many ways to examine your diet and learn if your caloric and nutritional intake is satisfactory or below par. Depending on how you prefer to do this, there are many apps and calorie calculators online if you want to get that detailed. For one example, you can check www.calorieking.com and assess your daily caloric intake. You can also determine and adjust your intake to maintain, lose or gain weight.
So in the end how you keep track of your dietary intake will depend greatly whether you want to count calories or not. Remember the accumulation of 3500 extra calories leads to a 1 pound gain. A 3500 calorie deficit leads to 1 pound of weight loss. If you want to maintain your weight, you need to burn the exact amount of calories that you take in. As always, my favorite way to keep the body on track is to exercise regularly, because when you do, you not only burn calories but crave the foods that create a healthy cycle of wellness.