General Diet Plans and Questions - Eating Healthy or Counting Calories?

03-27-2014, 01:56 PM
Okay I have a serious problem! I have tried the 'counting calories diet' before; it work but not in long term; as in the end eating food and counting calories became such an obsession as I gained back ALL the weight I had lost (maybe even more). Personally I started eating healthy. For example today I have eaten 2 Greek yogurts (fat and sugar free) oatmeal 3 bananas 3 apples 2 kiwis (OKAY I am guilty I love fruits) a huge salad one chicken breast grilled with hot peppers and a piece of dark chocolate (90% dark which actually helps your heart <3 ). But if I count the calories of the food that I have eaten is like 1550 calories. It exceeds my calories restrict by 350 calories ( I am really petite and If I want to lose weight I have to eat 1200 calories and burn 200 calories by exercise -____- )
But really I cant count calories; personally I think is so UNnatural to count your hunger by numbers. You have hormones for that. Plus 1500 calories chips and milk chocolate is not the same with 1500 calories of healthy food, fruits and a little piece of chocolate! What do you think?

03-27-2014, 02:12 PM
Both actually. While some people can get obsessed with the numbers, For long term health and maintenance I eat very, very healthy. But I'm very conscious of my caloric intake. I did find eventually that it becomes somewhat intuitive, and that you "know" what you're eating.

The thing with hunger and hormones is that improper eating can screw up our signals, so sometimes we need to "retrain" with some intuitive eating and caloric monitoring.

03-27-2014, 02:39 PM
Eating healthy without counting doesn't work for me. I spent many years at my highest weight, not losing "eating healthy." Even on low-carb diets I have to count (calories, carbs, exchanges - what I count isn't as important as that I count).

If you can lose and reach your goal without counting anything, more power to you. I think it makes sense to follow the easiest and least restrictive plan that allows you to meet your weight and health goals.

If you do find that your weight loss eventually stalls, you may have to start counting something. I like exchanges, because once you learn the basics, you don't have to look up many foods as long as you are eating healthy, whole foods. For most proteins, 1 oz = 1 protein. Most veggies, 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked = 1 veggie.

Counting can be a pain, but it doesn't have to be any harder than writing a grocery list and it's certainly easier than balancing a checkbook. It doesn't have to be any more stressful than brushing your teeth (which isn't an instinctive or natural habit either, but most of us adapt to it pretty well).

You don't have to stress if you don't count every day, or if you go over your target. You don't even have to have a target. Just keeping an estimated tally can be helpful.

Yes, 1500 calories of wholesome food is a lot better than 1500 calories of junk, but 3000 calories of wholesome food isn't necessarily better than 1500 calories of junk. There's also more than weight loss at stake, so calorie counting shouldn't be used as an excuse to eat a lot of junk.

It's also important to know which healthy foods are truly healthiest, and which are nutrient poor (natural junk fook).

The sample menu you listed is quite high in carbs and sugars (even more so if the greek yogurts were flavored and sweetened). While the salad sounds healthy, lettuce is one of the least nutritious veggies. It's not unhealthy, but you also need lots of veggies in lots of colors.

Fruit is good, but too much can mess with blood sugar about as much as candy, calorie for calorie (though you do get to eat a lot more fruit for your calorie than candy)..

I'm not judging your diet by your one day menu. You probably already know much if not most of what I've said. I'm just pointing it out for those reading this who might not know. Many people do not know that fruit juices contain more sugar and are less healthy than koolaid. Whole fruit is better, but the sugar content still has to be considered carefully, because the fruit and vegetables we grow are mostly nothing like their wild counterparts. For thousands of years, we humans have been breeding more sugar into and fiber out of our fruits and vegetables. Fruit is much less sweet and is only available for a relatively short period and there's lots of competition for it in the wild.

There's some question whether grains are healthy or not and if they are which and how much we should be eating.

"Eating healthy" is actually a lot more complex than it seems. In some ways calorie counting is easier (not better, but certainly easier).

03-27-2014, 02:51 PM
wow I have to admit your answer really discouraged me :P But thank you for being honest :) really helpful :)

03-27-2014, 03:02 PM
I'm trying to do both - pick the healthy foods AND keep an eye on my calories. If your only goal was to get healthy, then picking healthy foods alone would be good enough. If you want to lose weight, you have to consider the calorie intake vs calories burned. There's no way around it.

03-27-2014, 03:59 PM
Losing weight is mostly about creating a calorie deficit. You have to eat less calories than you burn. If you burn 3000 calories a day and eat 2500 calories a day then you can roughly lose a pound a week. If you only burn 1700 calories a day then you can only eat 1200 calories a day to lose that same pound a week.

Calories do matter. And the above will hapeen whether those calories you eat are healthy or are unhealthy. I'm sure we've all seen the experiments where people ate Twinkies or something else unhealthy and still lost weight.

Ideally, what we want to do is eat healthy and also create a calorie deficit. If you eat healthy and don't create a calorie deficit, then you won't lose weight. If eating what you say you ate doesn't create a calorie deficit then you won't lose weight. Or, if it creates a tiny deficit then you will lose very slowly.

People differ on what they need to do to create that calorie deficit. Most "diets" create a deficit one of two ways. Some of them very explicitly limit the amount of what you can eat and have you keep track of it so you can know that you staying within the plan. Classic calorie counting does this. I do count my calories every day using My Fitness Pal. I don't think this is a substitute for eating healthy. I do look at my tracking each day to figure out what else I need to eat that day. If it is late in the day and I haven't had much fruit/veggies then I might get some berries for snack. I also eat dark chocolate as a snack. But, if I already recorded having some today then I would skip having more.

Weight Watchers Points Plan is really a way of calorie counting that nudges you to eat in a more healthy manner (the formula that converts macronutrients into pounts disadvantages cards for example. Also, most fruit is zero point). But, basically, the plan is based on the idea of eating a certain number of points each day.

Some programs control calories not by directly counting but by restricting what you eat. If you eliminate entire groups of foods and put certain foods off limits then - even if you don't count calories - you end up cutting calories. Atkins, for example, works this way. You don't count calories but so many foods are off limits that you end up cutting calories (in studies, low carb plans often end up with people eating the lowest number of calories).

WW Simply Filling is a variation of this. You don't count points with that plan, but you are restricted in what kinds of foods you eat (you can eat other foods in a very limited amount).

Trying to restrict how much you eat without limiting the types of foods you eat is difficult for many people. Others can do it. I know that for me, it doesn't work well. I don't like plans that forbid lots of foods and I don't do well with pure Intuitive Eating. So, I count calories and I count WW Points. I don't find this unnatural. And, I'm not an idiot. I don't feel that it is OK to eat 600 calories of cookies every day just because it fits within my calorie count. I do set nutritional goals (and WW has good health guidelines as well) that are in addition to my calorie goal.

03-27-2014, 04:42 PM
i prefer to just eat healthy i cant see my self counting calories the rest of my life.But if i make changes to my diet and keep them then i feel its sustainable

03-27-2014, 04:46 PM
I'm not a big fan of either calorie counting or eating healthy foods- well, eating healthy foods just for the sake of losing weight- healthy eating is something you should aim for so that you can thrive and feel good. That said, have you tried restricting your portion sizes and eating healthy? Chicken breasts these days are HUGE. I can't imagine what the chicken looked like originally but she must have had big bazongas! Haha, how about half a chicken breast instead? Then you can eat the other half for dinner. Just a thought.

03-27-2014, 05:26 PM
I'm not a big fan of either calorie counting or eating healthy foods- well, eating healthy foods just for the sake of losing weight- healthy eating is something you should aim for so that you can thrive and feel good. That said, have you tried restricting your portion sizes and eating healthy? Chicken breasts these days are HUGE. I can't imagine what the chicken looked like originally but she must have had big bazongas! Haha, how about half a chicken breast instead? Then you can eat the other half for dinner. Just a thought.

The bazongas comment made me LOL! I've had this thought a lot lately, too. I actually started cutting all my chicken breasts in half before I freeze them to help me make my portions smaller...cause oh my goodness, they are big! Some of the ones I get are nearly a pound! If that bird were to wear a bra, I don't wanna know what size she'd be wearing haha


I kinda feel like, do what you're doing and if you're losing weight, awesome! If it's not working, re-evaluate. Of course it's always better to eat healthier foods, but if you're not losing weight (and weight loss is your goal), then something's gotta change. That might be calorie counting, or that might be many of the other ways people have successfully lost weight throughout history, many of which are discussed on this board, should you decide to pursue a new strategy.

03-27-2014, 05:49 PM
Both unfortuantely. If you are very heavy, you can get away with just eating healthy/different stuff but at some point you will need to count calories/eat less to continue losing.

Likewise, just calorie counting will help you shift the weight but maintaining/health might become a challenge.

I actually did the opposite. I initially just ate less. But I started losing tons of muscle with my fat. So then I ate more healthily but then reached a point where I was eating too much healthly stuff so I stalled out.

Now I have to do both. And it is still a struggle to lose.

03-27-2014, 06:13 PM
I dont know what chicken breast sell in your country but in mine a chicken breast is like 190gr :)

03-27-2014, 06:23 PM
I have to do both unfortunately.

Calorie counting (to be honest) is a PAIN! Before when I thought I had "plateaued" I went and bought a food scale and realized all my healthy food was being eaten at my maintenance calories, as soon as I readjusted my calories, bought foods that gave me more for less calories, I started losing again.

I can't eat fruit due to allergies, but I have to say, too much fruit has always messed with me, any sugar really. It's like a bad cycle the more I eat it, the more I crave it, before I know it I'm up to 500 cals from just fruit, but not full. Now for 500 calories I can get a 4 oz of chicken breast( which I weigh) and a big cabbage salad, which keeps me satisfied for awhile.

I would try swapping spinach for your salads maybe? I never believed the calories in calories out until I actually started counting my calories, but if you should ultimately stick with whatever works for you!

I also wanted to add, calorie counting is a pain in the beginning but now I can kinda eyeball things to see without having to bring out the scale and everything, but when I have time, I try to be meticulous with calorie counting.

03-27-2014, 06:29 PM
Part of this is just a matter of personality. I enjoy the whole quantified self thing. So I count calories. I count WW points plus. I count carbs. I count my sodium and my calcium. I count my steps. I record my HR when working out. I count my calories burned (an estimate to be sure). I keep track of where I eat and what I eat. I count my minutes slept (again, an estimate per Fitbit). I like having all this data and analyzing it and it makes things easier for me. I would do it whether I needed to lose weight or not. It does help me with my weight loss, but part of this is that I just like doing it so it doesn't bother me to do it.