Last post, I talked about My Fitness Pal. An app that makes it very easy to track food and count calories and helps keep you accountable of your daily habits. Pretty awesome if you ask me. I have now been using it for a couple of weeks simply to keep track of my current eating habits and see where I am exactly and where I have to put some effort. What I have found is pretty interesting so far and while some of it I already knew, most of it I had no idea. Here are some of my findings.
This one is no surprise at all, but let's forget about the health issues involved for a moment. Even if there weren't any, soda simply doesn't make sense. Why drink your calories when you can eat them? As a self confessed soda addict, I have always struggled with this and in the past two years I have decreased my consumption significantly, but looking at my food intake graphically, the difference on days I drink soda as opposed to those days when I don't is pretty significant. When do I drink soda? If I eat fast food, I usually cave on the soda. It's just too convenient and cheaper. This is a sad, telling fact of the way we live. A double cheeseburger, fries and a soda is a lot cheaper than a salad with a bottle of water. Want to trade the soda in your combo meal for water? You gotta pay extra. And don't get me started on the bottled water racket... Which brings me to my next point.
Eating Fast Food is a Big Problem
I'm trying to cut this down but I'm in a vicious circle regarding my food budget. Avoiding fast food means having your fridge and pantry stocked with food so you can make your own but we are a family of five and our grocery bill can get pretty high. When the food runs low, we can't always fully re-stock right away so while that happens we order out, which in turns drains our budget even more. Usually we try to find a middle ground where I buy a few things that run out and leave others for later but that means I'm always running to the store to get "something". In the meantime, we order out and since we can't spend too much, we go for the cheap combo meal. Again, I try to avoid this as much as I can but once or twice a week, I end up in some drive-thru. And folks, if you haven't done the calorie math on this, you should. The calorie intake when I eat fast food versus days I don't is ridiculous.
Lunch is the Worst Meal of the Day
When we cook at home, we always make sure there are leftovers I can take to work the next day. This works out great from a health and budget perspective but when we don't cook at home I have to buy lunch. Where do I end up? The drive-thru. Remember what Joe Pesci said about the drive thru in Lethal Weapon 2? Exactly. There have been days when I have blown half of my calories for the day on just lunch.
The Night Grazer
It's important that I leave some calories every day for a nighttime snack. If I'm hungry, I get restless, if I get restless I can't sleep, if I can't sleep I watch TV, if I watch TV at night I head straight to the fridge and I'll eat whatever is there. This is not a problem if you have snacks planned and enough calories to eat them but if not, watch out! And Lord forbid, that there should be ice cream in the fridge. (There isn't... usually.)
We Need to Ban Weekends
Ok, that might not be such a good idea but weekends are dangerous. They are like a free pass to do stuff you shouldn't do or don't do stuff you should like, you know, cook. Suddenly, the stove becomes your worst enemy and our brains start to think differently. Whereas during the week I would consult with my wife: "What should we make for dinner?" During the weekend that exact conversation becomes: "What should we buy for dinner?" Or Lunch... Or Breakfast... I realize that the week is pretty hectic and we like to wind down a little during the weekend but we have to discipline ourselves more regarding this issue. What is worse, I find myself NOT counting calories during that time. I'm eating junk and suddenly I start to "forget" logging my food. Not good at all.
Breakfast of Champions
I thought I should close on a good note and this is definitely it. 5 years ago, I was defiantly entrenched in the "just a cup of coffee for breakfast and screw everything else" camp. Not anymore. It took some time and effort but I always make sure I eat something in the morning along with coffee, even if it's just some cereal and toast. It is now a habit and one that helps immensely. If you are an over-eater like me, missing a meal is just a cheap excuse to eat everything. Have some breakfast. It makes a difference. Believe me.
And that's the findings so far. I know it sounds pretty horrible but all in all, I actually manage to stay within my calorie intake pretty consistently. However, I could be doing much better, especially regarding the quality of what I'm eating. Fast Food joints have a pretty strong grip on our lives. Yes, lives. This applies to my whole family as well. Our daughters are young and we still have time to turn this around somewhat. So this effort is not just for me to lose weight but to place healthier eating habits for all of us.