We already know that processed foods aren’t good for us, but their prominent food labels make it easier to keep track of calories on our favorite apps. Yet it’s inevitable that dieters want to keep track of their fresh ingredients without having to rely on packaging. We break down a few ways you can teach yourself how to estimate calories in food that you’re actually eating.
Keep servings and portion sizes in mind
The number of calories you eat isn’t just based on the types of foods you eat. Calories consumed depend on serving size. Yes, that applies to your healthy food choices, too. A bottle of coconut water contains 16 fl oz, but each serving is only 8 fl oz. If you drink the entire bottle, you just doubled the number of calories listed on the back. When it comes to things like pasta, soup, sandwiches and more, things only get more complicated with their multi-step ingredients.
If you want to learn how to estimate calories by sight, your best bet is to start by always putting less on your plate than you think you need. This way, you can start paying more attention to whether or not you’re eating more than you need to be and consider your calorie consumption.
Use an app
We use apps for everything these days. We check our email, we communicate with friends, we track how many steps we take, and how many cups of water we’ve had. Why not use them for estimating calories? There are plenty of apps to help you keep track of the food you eat, even if you don’t have a nutrition label to help you out.
MyFitnessPal lets you enter in any food you eat throughout the day to help you keep track of calories. This is why it helps to familiarize yourself with portion sizes. The only way you can more accurately estimate calories in food is to tell the app how much food you ate in terms of servings and portions. One cup of soup? Two servings of eggs? The more you use tools like these, the better you can get at estimating on your own.
Focus more on the quality of your food
The better you eat, the fewer calories you’re going to eat per serving. Eat balanced meals throughout the day with all the food groups (primarily grains, fruits, veggies and protein). Foods like fruits and vegetables fill you up, so if you include those in your meals, you’re almost guaranteed to eat less.
That being said, you also need to train yourself to pay attention to your body’s natural hunger. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Experts advise eating fewer calories if you want to lose weight, but if you’re eating too little or too much, your body will tell you so.
Pay attention to your portions, and start by using an app to help you learn how to estimate calories are generally in the foods you eat on a regular basis. Focus on quality, and remember that calories are just energy. If counting calories doesn’t work for you, there are other ways to measure health.