Losing weight
May 27, 2005 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I need to lose weight. I have a very hard time keeping from snacking and overeating, and generally keeping track of my meals.

I'd appreciate suggestions to help me keep from overeating and snacking all the timeif anyone has any.

I've been hoping to find a website or program where I could keep track of food and exercise on a day-to-day basis. I've seen some, but none of them seemed to be very useful. I'd like one where I can add food or meals I make myself. I'd really love one where I could print off the week's meal plans, so I would be able to remember what I decided to eat.
posted by stoneegg21 to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The simplest, and most effective, diet I have tried is the South Beach diet.

posted by lustra at 1:45 PM on May 27, 2005

Best answer: I love www.fitday.com.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2005

Second for FitDay. It's exactly what you're asking for.
posted by knave at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2005

I use Total Fitness on my phone - it's handy to have it on me all the time, so I can fill it in sitting on the subway or waiting for a meeting to start etc. I'd never enter what I eat if I had to sit down at the end of a long day in front of a PC and remember it. I don't do it all the time, just for a week here, a week there to spot check how much protein etc I'm getting.

As far as snacking etc, it sounds obvious I suppose but we just stopped buying and stocking breadrolls, salted peanuts, juices etc - those are our weaknesses, and if they're not there we don't eat em. It makes a difference!
posted by dublinemma at 1:55 PM on May 27, 2005

I was using fitday.com for tracking calorie intake and exercise. It's not great for custom foods though. It definately helped me keep track of how calorie-rich all those bottles of coke and bags of chips are, but I gradually lost interest and stopped using it.
posted by philscience at 1:57 PM on May 27, 2005

I good hint I think is to remeber a lot of the time when you think you feel hungry you are really thirsty. If you feel hungry drink a glass of water or eat some ice!

Good Luck
posted by ozomatli at 1:59 PM on May 27, 2005

Snacking per se isn't necessarily a problem. The problem is that most snack foods are terrible for you: high in calories, sugar, and sodium, without providing much nutritional value at all. One suggestion is to keep foods close at hand that are better for you - fresh vegetables like carrots or celery, nuts, trail mix, etc. Next time you are feeling snacky, have a handful of almonds instead of a bag of chips. Its no panacea, but its a start.
posted by googly at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2005

Yep. Snack on fruit, it tastes good and you can eat it all day long.
posted by fire&wings at 2:14 PM on May 27, 2005

A friend of mine is doing weight watchers. She has access to an online system to keep track of her "points" (each food has a points value which is an easy way of keeping track of fat and calories). She has a points allowance every day. The web site has points values for pretty much all foods, including brand names and chain restaurant foods.

She's been doing it for a few months with great success. It doesn't seem too difficult - you can eat what you want, you just make an effort to keep track and cut calories. The site has a lot of recipes too. Some people who join pay extra for counseling or support groups, but she doesn't do that part.
posted by mai at 2:16 PM on May 27, 2005

Oh also my mom is doing south beach. Again, great success. That one is a bit hardcore at first, but it eases up over time in terms of calorie intake. She was happy that she lost weight all over her body.
posted by mai at 2:17 PM on May 27, 2005

I meant carbohydrate intake.
posted by mai at 2:17 PM on May 27, 2005

I'll throw in another recommendation for Fitday. I've also used Calorie King, which I thought had a better database for carb counting.

I found that once I started keeping a diet diary, the awareness of what I was putting into my mouth was a huge step in helping me form better eating habits.
Best of luck!
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:32 PM on May 27, 2005

Snacking per se isn't necessarily a problem.

Except when it is. A small healthy snack, fine. Constant grazing, not so fine.

As dublinemma says, you may need to remove access to those items. Clean them out of your cupboards at home, bring a pre-planned lunch to work and empty your wallet of cash so you won't be tempted to run out and grab something. Also, only cook as much as you will eat at that meal. If the only foods you have in your house require a half-hour of prep time in the kitchen, you won't be able to just wander in and grab a bite.
posted by cali at 2:35 PM on May 27, 2005

I tried both Fitday and Crosstrainer, and I liked Crosstrainer enough that I bought it - and I don't buy much software. I can't remember the things that sold me, but I thought I'd throw it out there as another option. I still like it and use it often, for both food and excercise.
posted by monkeystronghold at 2:48 PM on May 27, 2005

Best answer: I have heard that small snacks of tangy, sour foods (such as olives or pickles) can sometimes "interrupt" the craving for rich, sweet foods (particularly chocolate) -- they're intense flavors (unlike, say, plain celery) so they satisfy the desire to taste something, but without the calories/sugar/high sodium of a piece of cake or a bag of chips.
posted by scody at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

When you feel like a snack, perhaps replace that potential snack with drinking water?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:22 PM on May 27, 2005

I've been using nutridiary.com, which has a free food and exercise tracker with really basic info and gives you the chance to save and add foods not in their database. If you pay nutridiary, I believe it gives you lots more info and has a vaster database still.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:39 PM on May 27, 2005

I've lost 45 lbs so far this year on a roll-your-own version of wieght watchers, though it does require some record keeping. I think you'll have to buckle down and keep track of something along the line, whether its points, calories, carbs, or whatever.

A friend has had similar success using the official WW website. It does most of the keeping track for you, has recipes available, etc. It does cost though.
posted by jaysus chris at 5:02 PM on May 27, 2005

Try unsalted nuts as a snack. They are bland enough that you probably won't eat more than you really need to get you to the next meal. And they're nutritious as well.

My diet plan has been to cut out everything that I tend to want to eat compulsively, which means everything with added sugar. I find it much easier to cut certain foods out altogether rather than trying to ration stuff like chocolate which is like crack for me.
posted by teleskiving at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2005

Better life through chemistry: sibutramine. It's like will power in a pill.
posted by signal at 5:21 PM on May 27, 2005

What's sibutramine?

I find that keeping really healthy snacks in the house- as opposed to junk food- makes it ok to snack w/o worrying about gaining weight.

I keep baby carrots on hand- they're my stress food. When I get stressed and feel the urge to pig out, I eat a pound of baby carrots and that takes care of the urge. Same with cereal. It's not always a low-calorie food, but it's better than a bunch of potato chips. But whenever my BF has a bag of potato chips around, I eat them.

The suggestions about water are also right-on. Ditto iced tea (regular or herbal homemade, just as long as it's not sweetened with sugar).

The whole trick is to allow yourself to snack- you don't want to feel deprived- but make sure the snacks are low calorie and good for you.

Best of luck.
posted by elisabeth r at 5:48 PM on May 27, 2005

I've lost 20 lbs in a little over 2 months with zero exercise (well, I shoud say that I haven't changed my activity level at all - ie I'm doing what I've always done). I used nothing but Fitday. Seriously. It all boils down to calories in vs calories out. The rest is plain and simple bullshit. It's made all the difference for me. The most important thing for me was realizing that I ate a lot more, caloriewise, than I ever thought. There's just something about recording everything you eat.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:52 PM on May 27, 2005

posted by rxrfrx at 6:53 PM on May 27, 2005

To put a label on some of the above suggestions: there is an approach to dieting called Volumetrics which says that when you replace concentrated calories (red meat, snacks, desserts, etc.) with fruits, vegetables, and soups—all high in water content—then you get full while eating fewer calories. In other words, think about energy density: you can eat a lot more (quantity) and still be fine if the calories per ounce are low. (And, it turns out, drinks with calories - even fruit juice - don't fill you up, so you eat almost as much and end up with a lot more calories.)
posted by WestCoaster at 8:08 PM on May 27, 2005

diets just make you think about food.

i'm most serious when i say, if it's at all practical for you, fall in love.
posted by subatomiczoo at 8:38 PM on May 27, 2005

Having tried and given up using all manner of online and PDA counters, I spent one math-intensive day figuring out the calorie amounts of a number of meals and snacks I make for myself at home. Then I narrowed down to 10-12 of the 'best' ones (in terms of caloric value). Then I ate just from that list of meal choices. It made it easy -- I never had to count calories, just keep track of which meals and snacks I'd had. It settled into a pattern quickly, so I'd think of my day as "300, 50, 400, 100 (calories)" and not have to write down any more than that. I also put the list of choices on the fridge, so that if I was wondering what to eat I wouldn't open the door and see all the cheese and everything else my housemates have on hand; I'd decide from the list, then open the door and get the items out.

I did also rule out all caloried beverages (it's way simpler to only count the food). And to make eating-out evenings easier, anytime I had dinner plans on a particular night, I'd only eat fruit and vegetables during the day.
posted by xo at 8:38 PM on May 27, 2005

For me, I do best when I take the opposite approach than described here -- I put all the "taboo" foods in the house -- and this is key - along with a ready supply of the things I should be eating. If I don't perceive any lack or deprivation, I don't start wish eating - wishing I had this or that horrid thing. A drawer full of Hershey kisses and granola bars, a couple boxes of wheat thins and permission to eat them puts me in a mindset that I can eat whatever I want whenever I like. So I end up eating a handful of crackers rather than a half box when the craving hits. And if cravings come close to meals, I just make small gestures toward meal prep to remind myself it's just a natural hunger pang I'm feeling and not a snack time, like at PM, if I get the urge, I'll chop the vegetables for dinner or lay out the ingredients for a meal I plan to start making at 5:30 just to send a sign to my brain something good is en route. The hungrier I am the more I concentrate when I eat my meals paying attention to and looking for the moment I switch from being hungry to being satisfied, and then just go a couple bites past satisfied stopping before I get to "full." Most of these habits evolved from the Geneen Roth "breaking Free from Compulsive Eating" book and strategy.

The other thing I do is try to do all my shopping weekly and make meal plans, I generally make a ratio of two long prep, two medium prep and two short prep dinners and a quick list of two breakfast types (cereal or eggs) so when it's meal time I don't wonder and wander from my menus, I think "well, tonight is a good night for chicken and broccoli and rice." Taking food out of the freezer in the morning helps me keep it straight in my head, and honestly, when I'm really on my game about meal planning, other areas of my life start to be more organized as well. This is a method that speaks toward someone who has compulsive eating issues and not the typical person, but I wanted to post because it really is such a radically different outlook than traditional deprivation strategies, which work for 80% of the people, and really wreak havoc on those who have abundance and lack demons.

Of course to be honest, the most weight I ever lost at once (108 lbs in 6 months) I did by eating nothing but diet coke, coffee nips, multivitamins, an occasional bowl of total raisin bran, saltines, rolling rock and a pack a day of cigarettes, and attending 6 rock shows a week; but you know, I just can't get behind a plan like that as a "real" grown up.
posted by leslie at 11:45 PM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I lost over a hundred pounds (in about 8 months) via the Hacker's Diet. And...wait for it...kept it off--for the past four years.
posted by sourwookie at 11:46 PM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you want to understand the process. Check out The Hacker's Diet.
posted by Manjusri at 11:51 PM on May 27, 2005

May I suggest the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) Total Well-Being Diet? You eat more protein than you would on a low-fat carb-based diet (but it's not 'high protein'), still enjoy regular servings of complex carbs (like whole-grain bread, fruit and cereal), and there's 20 weeks' worth of menus set out for you.

If you're a guy, make sure you read the FAQ at the CSIRO site for increased portions (eg 3 pieces of bread instead of 2, 300g of meat for dinner instead of 200g, and so on).

There'll be a book out in a couple of days, but you can download everything for free (and get recipes) at The Main Meal.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:06 PM on May 29, 2005

I think it's essential to take baby steps. You're going to feel deprived and miserable if you toss out all of your favorite decadent foods at once.

Make little replacements. Take the 300+ calorie Snickers Bar out of your cart and buy a Luna Bar. (I love Luna Bars, they're healtheir than most foods and taste so good) Go through items in your cart and see if still can't eat similar foods with less calories, more fiber and less or zero trans fats.

Trade your soda for Diet Soda. (personally, I think NutraSweet/aspartame is deadly but there are plenty of choice with Splenda now, including Pepsi One, Diet Rite.

My other "trick" is to start wearing clothes that are a bit tight and uncomfortable, and possibly not all that flattering. You'll be reminded constantly that you're not happy with your weight, and when you pass a mirror think about how good you'll look when those clothes start fitting better.
posted by ignu at 11:50 AM on June 12, 2005

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