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Here's what I did to lose 20 pounds. See if these ideas would work for you.

1. Use your calorie counting chart everyday. No matter what.

Don't just use it when you're being 'good' (sticking to your diet), use your food calorie count chart to track EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY.

This will do two things. One, it will show you what you truly eat as opposed to what you think you are eating. And two, keeping track of each calorie this closely will help you stop feeling so guilty when you eat.

Food is just food. Keeping a chart for counting calories can help food lose some of its 'magic' power over you.

2. Tell yourself upfront that using this calorie counting chart system will feel different--for a while.

If you haven't been keeping track of your calorie intake using a calorie counter chart or some other method, then you have been doing the equivalent of spending your money without using a budget, a checkbook, or some other method of knowing what you are spending your money on.

Ever forget to keep track of your spending in your checkbook? Ouch! Do yourself a favor and start observing and deciding where you spend each calorie by using calorie counting charts of some sort.

Print this free Calorie Counting Chart.  (Scroll down for more helpful hints after the count calories chart.)

(Requires a PDF file reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader)

calorie counting chart

3. At first, just be an observer. When you are counting calories chart everything. And learn from what you chart.

Log all your calories; you don't even have to try to change your eating at first. After only a week or two, you will have a lot of data, thanks to your calorie counting chart.

What does that data tell you? Do you eat more in the morning or in the evening? When do you tend to eat for comfort? (We all do that.) Do you nibble while you cook? Do you have a time of day when you feel comfortable with your current eating habits?

All of this information should be entered on your food calorie count chart
. I learned that I had truly 'super-sized' my food portions over the years. What can you learn about yourself and your eating habits from your calorie intake chart?

At this point, you'll be ready to start making little changes that make sense to you. Click here for more tips on using a printable calorie chart.

4. Don't let eating out bug you.

Print out a copy of this calorie counting chart to take with you when you eat out. Simply jot down the foods and general quantities you eat while sitting at the table. You can calculate each actual calorie amount when you get home. I have learned to plan ahead and decide what kind of food I want to eat and how many calories I am willing to budget for that meal. For me, it's the same as deciding how much I am willing to pay for a pair of jeans before I go shopping for them.

5. Be accurate in your food measurements.

At first, take the time to actually measure or weigh your foods. It's really worth the effort. Besides, it won't take long for you to be able to eye portions easily and be right on target with each calorie you take in.

Here's something to think about. I used to have a son in college. When he was starting out, he would look at his food monies at the beginning of each semester and feel like he could eat out all the time. Then he learned that ten dollars here and ten dollars there really does add up...and consequently he'd run out of food money ahead of schedule. With practice he learned how to budget and spread his money out appropriately so as to have what he needs all semester. And he even managed to eat out occasionally, too.

The principle with measuring your food is the same. You are taking care of yourself. And a big part of that is to simply keep a set of measuring cups on your counter and use them. After awhile, you won't run out of calories before you run out of day.

Pretty simple, huh?

Remember, each calorie is fuel for your body. A chart for counting calories just helps you keep your body running smoothly.

6. Customize your calorie counting chart.

It won't take long for you to realize that if you're like most people, you eat the same foods over and over again. We all have favorites. Once you've recorded a food in your 'counting calories' chart, you can simply refer back to it next time you eat it. You don't have to look it up over and over. It's already there in your chart.

Once you get to that point you'll realize it's only taking you minutes a day to use your calorie counting chart. Minutes a day for better health by using a simple calorie intake chart. That's a pretty great investment, isn't it?

7. Make using a calorie counter chart a game.

I really had fun with this one. I would always ask myself if there were any substitutions I could make that would allow me to enjoy a particular food but save on the calorie or fat count. Because I continually asked myself that question and then adjusted my foods accordingly, I now enjoy pizza (my favorite food) with much less fat and calories.

I know how to adjust almost any recipe to be lower in calorie and fat count (start by using low-fat or non-fat ingredients wherever possible). And yes, I love the taste of the food I now eat. Start easy on yourself by substituting only parts of ingredients until your taste buds adapt.

Hey, we changed our eating habits so much in our household my teenaged daughter actually complained about the salty taste of regular potato chips.

Just take it one step at a time and keep faithful with your handy dandy calorie chart.

8. Actually, this is really about liking yourself.

When I started using a calorie counting chart, I promised myself I would focus on learning one new healthy idea on a regular basis. I would not focus on giving things up. I would welcome change and have fun with it. And if I genuinely didn't like a particular change, I wouldn't push it. I'd try something else.

I also paid attention to how I felt about eating and day-to-day stuff in general. I tried to listen to myself more and react less. I can tell you it's been a very positive experience and I recommend it to you, as well.

9. Consider the buddy system. When you count calories, chart a friend or spouse's calories, too.

For most of us, doing something new or difficult is easier to do with a friend. People really can help each other stay accountable AND, the whole process of using calorie counting charts can be more interesting when you're sharing. Print out as many copies of the chart for counting calories as you need and share a copy with someone you care about.

That's why some diet centers make use of group support. I used an online calorie counting chart and there was a forum available for members. The forum was extremely active. Find what works for you and use it!

10. Using a food calorie count chart is harder on the front side (when you first start) than it is on the backside (after you've been doing it awhile).

That's a little secret that worked for me. Give yourself the chance to experience both the front side and the backside and then you can decide if you want to use a calorie chart for the long haul. Remember, you're in control. So be consistent and give the whole plan a reasonable amount of time to work.

11. Smile a lot.

You'll feel better and people will be drawn to you in positive ways that reinforce how good you feel about yourself. Remember, you do NOT equal your weight! You are a fantastic person already; you are simply looking for ways to better yourself. Such a smart thing you are doing!

In summary, use a calorie counting chart to...

  • learn about yourself
  • stay consistent
  • measure both your food and your progress
  • go on an adventure with a friend.

If you need a more sophisticated calorie counting chart than the simple one I give you here, you can try the one I actually used to lose 20 lbs. This online calorie counter chart will do all your calculations for you and has an extensive database of food, as well. I really enjoyed using it every day.

Whatever wellness tools you decide to use, I applaud you for taking such good care of yourself. Remember, you can't give to others from an empty cup. You must nourish yourself in order to nourish others. This truth applies in mothering as well as in the rest of life.

So take excellent care of yourself and your family and teach your family to do the same.

This information is presented for informational and educational purposes only. Always remember to see your health care professional before beginning any new diet or exercise program. The results presented here are not typical. Your results are dependent upon you and your efforts and will be unique to you.

Comments from visitors to our calorie counting chart page:

"Thank you! Your website has helped me understand a lot. The counting calorie chart does help me see what I've been really eating. Before I started counting my calories, I was wondering why I was overweight and I felt like I didn't eat much everyday. But when I started counting my calories I realized I was consuming more calories than I thought. I have been counting calories for only three days, but now I am learning to manage my calorie intake and lose weight. Thank you! Your website is great!"

"Marvelous. Thanks, will spread this among my friends!"

"thank you so much for having this calorie chart made available. I have just started a workout program and I am also starting to count my calories. I feel more energetic since I have started working out and this will help me count the pounds AWAY!!!"

" I am just starting out with calorie counting and have stuck with it for the past 2 weeks. A couple of the small examples and suggestions you gave have really made sense and hit home in helping me understand how this all works. Thank-you!"

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