Healthy Eating
Live To Eat...... Healthily
04 February 2013
Counting Calories
The following is not really diet advice. If you need that, you should go to your doctor or a qualified dietician. This is just how I do it. Hopefully you will see that it is a positive lifestyle choice and take some steps toward getting healthier yourself.

The picture opposite is the toolkit I use in my weightwatching activities. The scales and the calculator are fairly obvious ones and they enable the calorie content of food to be evaluated. For an old goat like me, the magnifying glass comes in very useful for reading the microscopic nutritional labels used nowadays.

The UK National Health Service (NHS) recommends a daily intake of around 2500 calories for men and 2000 for women. If you are trying to lose weight, there has to be some deficit to facilitate the loss. To a degree, this can be achieved, by increasing levels of physical activity, but ultimately, some reduction in food intake has to take place. I reckon a good target to start with is about 2000 calories for men and 1500 calories for women. This fits in with NHS guidelines and over time should result in a weight loss of around a kilo a week. I find that when my weight gets down near to my 70 kg target I have to eat fewer calories to finish the job and I reduce my intake further, to about 1500 calories a day.

An interesting experiment is to keep a food diary for a week and work out exactly how many calories you are consuming. Itís a bit of a pain until you get into the swing of it, but the results can be surprising and informative.
So why is a bloke in his early fifties so obsessed with his weight? It seems a bit poncey to me, and I am the one doing it!

The long and short of it is that I have an astronomically high cholesterol level and I cannot tolerate a high enough statin dose to control it. My cholesterol level is very sensitive to my weight. At 83kg (180lb) my total cholesterol is about 9 mmol/litre and at 70kg (155lb) it settles at about 3.7 mmol/litre. Ultimately, itís my endocrinologist who is driving the weight control. That said, dieting over recent years has been a good thing. I feel better. Exercising and keeping active is easier. I donít get breathless running up and down stairs and I donít get indigestion/acid reflux very often.
I am maintaining a calorie counter here to make it easier for anyone to keep track of what they are consuming. The calorie content of different foods can be found by clicking the relevant link on the sidebar of this page. The values given are a guide only. If in doubt, consult the nutrition label. Currently, the list uses units of grams and millilitres which may not be of so much help to our friends across the pond. I will put a bit of work into writing a calculator/converter or revising the lists to include US measurements soon. In the meantime, there are many calculators/converters available online Try a Google search for Ďounces to gramsí or ĎUS cups to millilitresí. I will put some information about equivalent values on the Useful Stuff page in the coming week as well.
It is important to realise that everyone is different. Different levels of physical activity, your age, sex, hormonal balance and prescription medicines all have an effect. I monitor my weight weekly and adjust my intake levels so that I lose at a healthy rate of 1kg/week. When I have hit my weight target I relax a little. I continue to weigh myself weekly and if my weight creeps up I adjust accordingly.

For me, dieting isnít a death sentence. I eat pretty much what I want; I just watch the portion sizes and make sensible, healthy choices. If I am trying to lose weight I still have a splurge every few weeks with a Ďdiet free weekendí. Itís an enjoyable, occasional treat.

I think it is important to ensure that my diet is balanced, as well as calorie controlled. I eat loads of fruit and vegetables (generally low in calories). I eat controlled
amounts of staples/starchy foods, plenty of skimmed milk and yoghurt, but very small amounts of cheese. I tend to eat strong/mature cheese in meals so that a small amount of cheese adds a lot of flavour. I am lucky in that I am not a big cake or biscuit fan. I just donít eat sugary stuff at all and it doesnít bother me. I eat plenty of fish and a controlled amount of meat (I often substitute beans for meat as a source of protein).

I like an alcoholic drink now and again, and that is ok as long as it is accounted for. Alcohol is a very efficient way of consuming calories and could easily scupper a diet. There is nothing wrong with a twice a week tipple. Any more than that might make it difficult to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time.
Eggs and Dairy
Fats and Oils
Grains and Pasta
Sugar and Syrup
Processed Foods
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Fruit and Veg
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