Do you REALLY know exactly what you put in your mouth? How much? How many calories? How often?
Sometimes we may think we are eating well and can't figure out why the weight isn't shifting but if we had hidden cameras capturing everything we put in our mouth we would probably find the answer!
Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or simply make healthier food choices, knowing the nutritional value of what you are eating is the key.
For example knowing that 5 dates is 110cal and a cup of strawberries is only 49cal may affect your decision on which one you choose.
Not to take away from the nutrition qualities of dates,which can be found here, but if you ARE trying to shift some weight this is valuable information.
One of the very best ways to be accountable and aware of what you are REALLY eating is to keep a food diary, and be HONEST about what you really eat. Every last nut, crust cut off your kid's sandwich, spoonful of dessert. All of it. Once you start recording it you may all of a sudden stop putting some of those things in your mouth so "mindlessly".
You could simply use a pen and paper for this and look up the calories online or in a calorie counting book. I, however, have recently found the My Fitness Pal iPhone app (which is also available to use online here) which is AWESOME for this. You simply enter your food AND your exercise as you go about your day, let's face it, we always have ours phones with us...or is that just me?? ;)
You set you targets and you can even be held more accountable by joining the "community" which is essentially full of others to encourage you. Or not, if that doesn't suit you.
Keeping a food diary may be something you start and continue to do forever or it may be something you do for a little while to help you get "back on track". One thing is certain though. If you track your calories you are much more likely to succeed with any weight loss you are trying to achieve.
So that's one thing you can do to make yourself more accountable and mindful of what you are putting in your mouth but it's not for everyone.
Speaking from experience, the below are where some of my "extra mouthfuls" come from and how I try to combat them.
MINDLESS: Kids scraps ie. crusts off sandwiches, just 'one or two' chips etc...
MINDFUL: Teach kids to put their own scraps in the bin/compost or throw crusts straight in the bin as you cut them, make sure you have something healthy to eat whilst the kids eat their chips so you don't "share" - stopping at just one is hard!
MINDLESS: Standing in the pantry with your hand in an open packet of chips/biscuits/cereal/dried fruit/nuts etc
MINDFUL: Try and get in the habit of always eating off a plate/out of a bowl. One, you will be aware of exactly how much you are having and two, you may realise you are just eating for the sake of it/because your bored/because you are getting something else out of the pantry....
MINDLESS: Going back for seconds, just because it's there...
MINDFUL: Dish up your meal and then put any leftover straight into containers before you even sit down to eat. Bonus! A meal for another time taken care of :)
MINDLESS: Fridge full of fruit and veg but you go for the packet of chips because they are quicker/easier
MINDFUL: Instead of storing your fruit and vege whole, cut up your watermelon, rock melon carrots, celery etc, and have a fruit bowl of "pick up up and eat" fruit like apples, bananas etc so that it is just as easy and quick. If you want to be super organised you can portion your fruit/veges into snack bags so you know exactly how much/how many calories you are eating.
MINDLESS: Snacking on nutritionally poor food because it's there. This is my number one tip. If it's not there you can't eat it!!!!
MINDFUL: Just as important as not having the nutritionally poor food around is making sure you DO have there! Fill up your fridge with fresh fruit and vege and binge on that!!!
MINDLESS: "Sampling" so much of what you are cooking that you are either no longer hungry for the meal or end up eating two servings
MINDFUL: Chew gum while you cook.
MINDLESS: Eating when you are not hungry/because you are bored/tired/emotional
MINDFUL: First of all have a BIG glass of water. A lot of the time we think we are hungry when in fact we are thirsty. Second of all, once you've done that you may prompt yourself to rethink eating.
So there you go. Hopefully some of these tips help you. I would love to hear any others you may have? :)
I also believe in being educated about exactly what you put in your body and making sure there is less of the processed additives and nasties and more of the 'whole' and natural. It's certainly not JUST about counting calories. You want to make sure those calories count in a GOOD way for you. But that is a whole other post....