Trimming Down Part 3: Food Quality vs. Quantity

I’m a foodie and a food addict. There, I admitted it. Food had been for me everything that you see on TV – comfort, escape, control, emotional support. I just don’t seem to have that instinctive shut-off switch that says “whoa, horsey.” Getting control of my food intake has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

When I started this process, I thought about how I could develop new food habits without giving up the food I really enjoyed. Whatever habits I was to form needed to be something I could stick to long-term.

I established a starting point: quality of food was important, but quantity of food was even more important. I knew the early seeds of discipline weren’t strong enough to forego some amount of indulgence.

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The Fitbit food logging screen. I’ll tell you what a “Chris McMuffin” is in a different post.

So, I decided to start with cutting the quantity of food, and not worry about the quality (junk vs. healthy). To get my arms around the quantity problem, I started logging everything I was eating. Logging was itself a tough habit, and still is. The Fitbit app made it easier though. It’s straightforward when you eat foods in the food database. Eating at restaurants though, requires discipline in choosing reasonable substitutes and honest quantities from the database.

The Fitbit has some smarts in it to automatically figure out a calorie budget for you, based on your basal metabolic rate and activity level (steps). Candidly, this turned out to not work for me. Even on their “aggressive weight loss” goal setting, the Fitbit was suggesting I eat 3,000+ calories per day. I followed this advice for 3-4 days. Then, I rejected it when I realized I was not only feeling uncomfortably full all the time… but also the scale also started heading in the wrong direction.

Fortunately, Fitbit has a manual calorie goal setting. Unscientifically, I chose a daily target of 1,500 calories. Roughly four 375 calorie meals. That’s an aggressive target that took some getting used to, but I found it to be sustainable without feeling starved. I knew with high certainty that if I could stick to a 1,500 calorie intake and do nothing else, the pounds would have no choice but to start coming off.

At that point, I had a system for measuring my food intake, and a self-imposed goal to hit each day. I had not yet made any changes in my activity level. In a future post, I’ll talk about that and the actual foods and quantities I eat regularly.

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