Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Countin' Calories

I have a confession to make. I count calories. Every single teensy, little calorie. And I've done so for years.

I'm not trying to lose weight (well, maybe a pound or two gained in Portland this past August ... damn Voodoo Donut binges), but I am trying not to gain weight. I'd like to stay this size for the rest of my life, so I work hard to keep my calories within the amount allotted by the Lose It app on my iPhone.

It's also a control issue. I'm a bit of a food addict, and this keeps me from overindulging. When I'm not counting (say, on vacation or a holiday), I eat until I'm miserable. Plus, I'm type A to the max, and I've probably got a hint of OCD. Nearly every hour of my life is planned. I don't do spontaneity. Counting calories falls into my overall anal retentiveness. And this is gonna sound super-nerdy, but I think counting calories is fun! Especially when I get to erase consumed calories by recording my daily workouts.

But as y'all know, this Southern girl loves her junk food and fried goodness. I just portion it out and enjoy it in moderation. However, sometimes, it's really nice to have a naturally low-cal meal so I can eat more of it (and save those extra calories for a beer or two later in the day). That was the case with this French Country Stew from Dr. Neal Barnard's Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook:

At only 212 calories for a two-cup serving, this dish is filling and guilt-free. It's got butternut squash for some seasonal goodness, plus cabbage, diced tomatoes, and white beans. I enjoyed it with a slice of Harvest Grain bread from Kroger schmeared with a little Earth Balance and Marmite.

This is the first recipe I've made from Dr. Neal's cookbook, but as you would expect from the good doctor, all of his recipes are based on whole foods. Calorie counts are included, and most meals are less than 300 calories per serving. I love it when cookbooks include calories so I don't have to do the math myself. Anyway, I'll be exploring this book more soon. I've got my eyes on the All-American Scramble Bagel, the Italian Chickpea Nibbles, the Tempeh Burgers, and the Hummus Pizza.

Do you count calories? Or do you have another method of regulating your food intake?

28 comments:

dearkrislyn said...

I'm the same way! I'm on the smallish side, but have to be conscious about how much I'm eating or I'll eat everything in sight and feel so sick. You're definitely not alone on that one.

Heidi said...

Hiya, I counted calories for years. These days I feel as though I eat what I want when I want, but its still a case of everything in moderation, at nearly 40yrs I'm just not conscious of it anymore!

I love you blog Bianca, and read all your posts. Love ya xx

VALLEY VEGAN said...

yes I count calories when i start to gain weight.I went to see Dr.Neil Barnard in Washington D.C.Hehad a 8 week class .once a week on wednesdays .he is very funny and he lives by what he teaches he looks even thinner in person .he says if you eat like he does you don't have to count calories.but you have to give up the oil [soooo.... hard !!!!!!]

The Health Sleuth said...

i gave a presentation at work yesterday and part of it was "Calories Don't Count". If you're eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet, your fiber intake should help regulate your digestion and cravings. Eat more plants, Bianca! :)

Brian Woz said...

Glad you mentioned this topic. I'm one of the few men I know that counts calories. When i'm in extreme mode, I make sure to burn away at least 500 calories at the gym in the morning so I can start the day -500. Like you, when I fall off the wagon, I eat well beyond the point of satiety. I'm definitely a food addict, i know this, so I have to be careful. I'm currently in the "eat everything all day long" mode and need to break from that soon. You sound like me; an all or nothing mentality.

Caitlin said...

i'm the same exact way. i've counted calories for the past..6 years. i definitely think it's a control thing as well, in addition to the fact that i used to eat until i was miserable, just like yo("but it's just so good!")

i felt like i was reading about myself when you described that nearly every hour of your life is planned and that you don't do spontaneity- i am the same exact way. good to know i'm in such good company ;)

foodfeud said...

I used to, but it got crazy. I'm very controlling and definitely OCD but I eat pretty healthily and I can...usually stop when I should.
How do you know the calories in all your food, though? Like, when you eat out, or buy two Voodoo donuts? Is there an app? Do you ask? Do you esstimate?

Zoa said...

I second Foodfeud's question--I counted for a while, and it most definitely helps with conscious consumption, but I like to change recipes and experiment and it just got to be too much, even with the Web apps out there--now I tend to do rough estimates just in my head. Being more of a type M or N, I don't have serious control issues, but can be shame- (or, on the positive side, pride-) driven if, for instance, I just write down what I eat, which I'm not doing right now but am going to start *today*. "Eating until I'm miserable" is a problem of mine as well...so thanks for this post, it's just what I needed--

Vanilla Bean Vegan said...

I'm the same way, in which I have to really monitor what I eat, and I do occasionally fall of the wagon and eat a cupcake or something fried. But I have been trying to lose the 50lbs I gained 10 months ago while pregnant with my daughter, and only have 10 more lbs to lose yeah!! Love your blog, I read it every morning.

Allysia said...

I definitely don't count calories, per se, but I have a fairly good sense of how many calories I'm consuming at a meal, because I know a cup of rice is this amount, and there's approximately 2 tablespoons of tahini in the sauce, and veggies are virtually calorie free, and etc. Mainly I do the math in my head so that I make meals that fill both me and Logan up without us starving two hours later!

Sarah @ See Sarah Eat said...

I go back and forth with calorie counting. I did it for years and it helped me lost 70 lbs so I know it works. But I will take prolonged breaks from it, then when my clothes start to feel tight, I come back to it for a little while. I use MyFitnessPal website and app ;)

Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

I'm a calorie-counter. I've done it for 10 years. After using it to help lose 55 lbs, I now use to it help maintain my weight. After so long, it's just a habit. I can't imagine NOT doing it! I use MyFitness Pal too and I love it. I can even create recipes in it and store them for later.

I'm also a pretty type A person and I think that factors in as well, but I'm not too obsessive with it. As long as my weekly average is what I like it to be, I'm good to go!

POPshop & Spazz Records said...

I'm not a counter. I notice when I start counting, my outlook on food gets pretty rigid and unhealthy in a hurry. I just stick with my Eat To Live style habits with some splurges here and there, exercise 3-5 times a week, and my weight stays where I like it. To each his/her own :)

Sarah C. said...

I'm curious how many you count (ie,. how you decided what your body needs - a formula, or trial and error?), and how you know how many are in recipes. I track calories in the free website fitday.com and I try to add in the ingredients in a recipe (if they don't have a similar food in the database already; you can also create custom foods with the nutrition info, which is great if you repeat things but annoying if you make a lot of new recipes regularly).

Anonymous said...

I follow a low-fat, raw vegan diet. I can eat enormous portions (okay, so it's mostly vegetables) and I don't have to bother with calories.

Candice said...

I used to religiously then I went a little overboard :( now I just try to "mindfully eat". When I'm going for food "am I REALLY hungry?" craving sweets "fruit will work instead of chocolate mint Cocobliss"
I do have the Cocobliss from time to time. I just try to consciously consume foods that are nourishing :)

P.S. I love Dr. Barnard..like for real. haha!

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

Oh my god. Seriously, those first 3 paragraphs could've been written by me. They sound like they came out of my head. In fact, if you'd shown them to me isolated, and asked me who wrote them, I'd say without hesitation, "Me. I don't know when or where, but it's perfectly clear *I* wrote that."

Beyond that, I don't even know what to say, but...YES.

Now I wanna dork out with you about cal-counting and ask you personal questions like how many you aim for each day.

Scissors and Spice said...

I don't count on the weekend... mostly. But, I have found that once I hit my 30s, I've really had to be careful to limit quantities because my sluggish metabolism is getting even more sluggish as I race to the big 4-0!

Erin said...

I tried calorie counting for a while but it felt tedious to me, and I also tended to go over my goal...and because there was no negative feedback, if I was going to go over I'd go way over. I joined weight watchers a few months ago (as hokey as it sounds) and it actually works really well for me. Food and drinks have points based on their fat/protein/carb/fiber content, and all fruits and vegetables are free. I've come to really like that way of thinking about food as opposed to calories.

Tanya said...

I did count calories with Lose It for a long time....while losing about 30 pounds when I went vegan. The problem is...I have to manually calculate everything I make at home and then enter it as a "new food". Of course, then it's already in there when I make it again. But still....kind of a pain. Anyway, I haven't counted calories in a long time. I still have a few pounds to go, but I eat pretty healthy and don't usually go overboard on anything and now I have a heavy workout schedule as well. Great post!!

jb said...

I used to pay much more attention to my calorie intake, but I think I've managed to find a good balance, and a repertoire of meals that I know are just enough for me. I think you just have to find the most comfortable diet for yourself and stick with it! Also, that soup looks super tasty!

dreaminitvegan said...

I think that if you eat more of a whole foods plant based diet then you won't really crave those sugary and fried foods. Personally by eating the way I do I can't handle baked goods that are too sweet and I'm always adjusting the amount of sugar in them. Fried foods make me feel terrible. But I'm not worried about the calories that's in the cookie or cookies I'm going to eat because my diet is good. Our palate adjusts quite well when we start eating better. Plus by being somewhat active is a must too. My opinion.
Anyhooo...I love your blog !

Susan said...

I don't count calories or weigh myself, I just go by how I feel. But I LOVE to eat, and eat, and eat. I joined a gym specifically so I could continue to eat in the manner I wished. So now my strategy is if I start to feel like I'm gaining a little, I ramp up the workout and maybe, just maybe, decrease the food intake by a little. It's very inexact, but it seems to be working. ;)

Sal said...

I count calories too, but I am trying to lose weight. I've lost about 30 pounds so far and still have a bit more to go. But even when I hit goal I will still count, as I will just overeat otherwise! :0) Love my food!!

I use Noom, an android app to track calories and exercise etc.

Suz said...

Have to shout out "Get Healthy, Go Vegan"- I have really enjoyed this book! Try the sun-dried tomato dip and the asparagus soup. They are amazing and have both become staples for me. We've loved all of the soups, actually, and the BBQ tofu is pretty good- hearty and satisfying, especially with a recipe of caulipots from Appetite for Reduction...yum!

Vegyogini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorrie Berg said...

Wow I stumbled upon this post by googling vegan calorie counting blog. I think it's funny because I already fallow your blog but I didn't know that you count calories! I feel like you do about the OCD thing. For me I just don't want to gain back the 104 lbs I lost. So I plan my days worth of calories out (sometimes even the day before). It's cool to know that I'm not the only vegan addicted to calorie counting.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad to hear of another vegan who counts calories. i love the vegan lifestyle and vibes, but i have to count calories as i have been recovering from an eating disorder for a while. it makes me feel better to hear that other vegans count them too.