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Food tracking, how to and know how

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I won't be talking about why you should track, maybe some other time.
I track all my food, it takes me about 5 minutes accumulated through the day.
Lets talk about how I do it on SP. What's good and what's not.
I don't use it, cause usually you can't find what you want and you can't change it.
I use it only to check up some produce.
All items I use I've added manually, even if it has item with the same information, I'll explain later.
I don't use it, cause it always add same items and amounts.
After adding you need to change amounts and remove some items, even with multiple removal. And worse part is that it reloads your browser, which takes a lot of time.
It gives less points:)
I think it's the worst part of SP tracker:) I use it only for my soup.
First - you have to use portions, which almost never the case when you cook.
We're not at a restaurant and not a factory, for my soup it works cause I divide it across 7 identical bowls to store for the week, other then that I have no portion bases cooked foods.
Second - again, you're not a robot and you can't make it exactly the same way.
And with recipe you can't change anything - only way is to create a makeover. That is what I do every Sunday, I create a makeover of my soup. Today I'm having "82 Soup, 1 serving" ...
And you can't change your recipe, cause it will change all previous records.
This is the part that I always use. You can add multiple foods with appropriate amounts.
But it would be hard to scroll across all of my foods, that's why I have GROUPING.
It has nothing to do with SP grouping, I place a number in the name of every food - group number. Then I narrow by typing 1 or 2 or other to get a list I don't need to scroll.
My groups are: 1 - Breakfast, 2 - Lunch (protein and fat), 3 - Salads, 4 - Snacks, 5 - Sweets.

Now lets talk about specific food types and how to manage them:
1. Random food.
Some times you eat something very unusual, one time food, maybe you've tasted it and didn't like it. You still need to track it, but you don't want to create it or search for it. I have food called "0 Abstract Calories", which is 1 kcal per 1 gram. So you can directly put calories into your food tracker without specifying the food.
2. Portioned food.
That's easy, you eat a pack of something you put it in as 1 serving. You don't need to weigh it.
Jar of baby food, or a piece of chocolate, a cookie or candy...something you can count.
3. Weight food.
That's not that hard too. All my weight food has default weight of 100 and I change it.
Weighing is not that hard, you put your plate on scale and write down everything you put on your plate. Most scales have that change to zero button, so you don't need to subtract.
It works for all simple foods, cooked or not - doesn't matter. You can group some foods to make it easier. For instance, for my salad I have either Green Veggies or Red Veggies. Sure it's not that accurate, but much easier, cause I can use like 5-6 kinds of Veggies in my salad.
4. Recipe food.
That's the most tricky one, you can't really use Recipe part (reasons are above) and you can't really ignore how you make it. You can't use Red and Green Veggies approach, cause your current making of a recipe can drastically change calorie count of the food.
All these recipe foods are listen with 1 gram default amount. That means that I can't just put its weight in, cause every 1 gram will be counted as 1 kcalorie. Hence I need to calculate it.
When you prepare your meal you can weigh all of the ingredients, count total calories and weigh in final dish, divide them and you'll get calorie content of that food per gram.
Weigh your portion, multiple with calories per gram - you'll get your number. Now you can put it into tracker. You'll be entering calorie amount not weight.
To simplify this process I have a spread sheet with common food I make, I enter weight of all the ingredients, total weight of prepared food and amount I took for myself. That way it's much easier. Ingredients calories value are already reentered as well as whole calculation.

This may seem to be overwhelming, but it's a well refined mechanism and it takes no time of mine. Sure you spent some time to put it new food, that you want to incorporate into your usual routing, but that doesn't happen too much.

Feel free to ask any questions!
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  • no profile photo CD14126107

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    100+ Pounds Team
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    2729 days ago
    Good plan!
    emoticon I like "82 soup, 1 serving."
    Like you I have seven identical bowls...it is such a timesaver!
    I would not make any progress without my food scale and the Sparkpeople tracker.
    emoticon emoticon
    2730 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14015082
    I track my food as it is great to see how much i am eating.I have never used the grouping.
    2731 days ago
    Tracking is unquestionably the most valuable tool for dropping the pounds. Sounding like you've got this down but GOOD! :-)

    2731 days ago
    I use favorites most of the time because living in South Africa, we have differently named items to the sparks program. It makes it easier for me to just add my items there and keep going there for my needs.
    2731 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    2731 days ago
    Thanks for sharing how you track! That's a great thing about SparkPeople... the sharing of information.
    2731 days ago
  • BRADMILL2922
    Great way to track! Whatever works for you!
    2731 days ago
    What a creative way to track! It is great that you found a way that works for you.
    2732 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14148396

    Thank you, that was helpful !
    2732 days ago
    Great tips!
    2732 days ago
    I didn't eat breakfast one day and there are a few none entered in search so I put one
    I looked at my breakfast total and it was something like 1500 calories. I guess someone thought it was funny. That happened on another food too but don't remember what it was.
    You just have to be careful when you use something someone else put in. Sometimes they only put in calories and not the rest.
    Thanks for the points and for adding me as a friend.
    2732 days ago
    I usually use the favorites but also use sometimes search food cause when I eat one of those occasionally food there's a chance someone entered it
    2732 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13766762
    That's an interesting way of tracking! :o) I also use the SP tracker, and like JOJOHNNSON, I always always enter my own foods. I very rarely use any of the foods that are already entered, mainly because I am so picky and particular. I want my calorie count at the end of the day to be as accurate as possible. I have every single food that I eat regularly in my database, and I love that! I only have to add something new on occasion. Thank you for sharing your information! Very interesting, indeed. :o) Hope you are having a great week!!
    2732 days ago
    Very interesting Andrey. It sounds like you have your tracking method down to a science. I do use the SP tracking... however... I enter ALL my foods in myself (my favorites) .. I do not use the SP already listed foods. Of course... once you start that... you soon have all the foods you eat normally already there and it eventually just comes to adding the new food only once in awhile. Thanks for sharing Andrey!
    2732 days ago
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