Counting Calories Establishes Healthy Expectations

By: Ron Lagerquist

“Once you have measured the calories in food, you will never again look at what you eat in the same way.”

Counting CaloriesYou have likely heard the old saying, A watched kettle never boils. It also can be said that A watched belly never disappears. If you buy into the supermarket tabloid’s front-page promise of Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days, then a week of starvation and no difference in the bathroom mirror can be enough to discourage anyone from dieting. That is where I have made my biggest mistake. After two or three days of disciplined eating, I feel as though I have really done something but, the fact is, if I have eaten only 500 calories fewer than I burned over a three-day period, that equals 1500 calories. There are 3500 calories in a pound of body fat, so you can do the math. I have lost less than half a pound—nothing to get too excited about, and it certainly does not warrant a reward of a 1500–calorie extravaganza at Chubby Chicken.

One week of counting calories will readjust weight loss expectations and will greatly reduce discouragement. False expectations and discouragement will quickly kill any diet program.

Getting Set Up

Ok, so let’s put together your Anti-Denial Tool Kit. The first thing you are going to need is a healthy measurement of commitment. It is going to take a little time and effort to weigh or measure all your food each day. To commitment, add a dash of courage. I was surprised at how much courage it took to quantify into calories every bite or gulp I swallowed. This is partly because I was also measuring my compulsiveness. If you have a compulsive nature, it’s easy to eat without any thought. A bite here, two bites there... but, once measured, there it is on paper.

You will also need measuring cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, and a food scale. All can be purchased at the local dollar store. The best free website I have found for calculating the calories in just about every food on the planet, including prepared and fast food, is If you want to calculate calories burned during a given exercise, here is the website I use:

Last, you will need a notepad. Write down everything you have eaten for that day. Other than air and water, if it goes in the mouth, write it down. Don’t cheat! Do this for one full week; this way, it will include your weekday and weekend eating habits. Try to act normal and eat the way you always do, getting an accurate reading on what you are consuming, which will go a long way in answering the question of why you have not been able to meet your weight loss goals. 

Concluding With Some Good News

Once you have measured the calories in food, you will never again look at what you eat in the same way. Knowing that a generous plate of Poutine (a popular French-Canadian treat consisting of fries, melted cheese curds, and gravy) equals over 1,300 calories, and a McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder Supersize Combo equals a crazy 1,620 calories, you might think twice before inhaling. Knowing what you are ingesting will help create new eating habits, resulting in not just weight loss, but in better health. Once a healthy habit has been created, it will work for you.

If you’re like me and eat the same foods every day, a week of calorie counting should be enough to provide a good idea of what you will need to do to get your perfect body. I have memorized the calorie content of just about everything I eat. If you care about your weight and health, ignorance is not bliss.

Best of all, keeping the weight off is much easier than losing weight. Again, this all boils down to the math. If you have been eating 600 calories fewer than you are burning a day, once you reach your desired weight (if you continue exercising), you get to eat an extra 600 calories a day and maintain your great new body. Now that you know how many calories are in what you eat, keeping the weight off will be easier. No more excuses. No more denial. Remember, denial is fattening!

Related Article: 12 Healthy Weight Loss Tips

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