“I’m too busy to count calories, I eat healthily I don’t know why I’m overweight”
I should no longer be surprised when I hear this statement. (I hear it often!). At some point we have decided if you eat healthy natural foods rather than junk foods you should not put on weight! Perhaps because can be time consuming to count calories but not all foods are created equal even healthy ones!
You can’t tell how many sweets are in the jar by looking at it and you can’t tell how many calories there are in from your food from looking at it. If there isn’t a food label you are guesstimating.
If you’re perimenopausal, balancing your hormones will be your first priority but reviewing how many calories you are eating and the type of calories comes in next. I recommend a calorie review.
Every so often you will probably do a financial review, you may have changed jobs or moved house and you’ll want to go over your finances to make sure all is good. A calorie review is the same only in this instance you probably have less to go around as your metabolic rate has probably gone down rather than up.
Constantly counting calories is not something I recommend – because let’s face it, it is time consuming and people focus on the numbers and not nutrients. But you need a baseline, otherwise it’s like spending money and not know how much you are spending or how much money you earn each month. You wouldn’t walk into a shop and buy a gorgeous new handbag without checking both the price tag and your bank balance but that is how we often behave with food – and we call it healthy eating!
Basal metabolic rate (BMR)
A good place to start is to find out how many calories you have to spend each day. This calculation takes your activity levels into account. So have a think of how active or sedentary your days are. Your weekdays may be different to the weekend. If that’s so take a note of both numbers sedentary lifestyle include sitting for long periods of time. You also need to know your weight. You can find a BMR calculator here
Now there can be a tendency to eat more if you know you have had an active day, maybe been to the gym. But this is best used the other way around. If it’s month end, your ridiculously busy at work and you know it’s unlikely you’ll get near the gym. That’s the time to be conscious of your food intake and lower it. Make your choices earlier in the day so you don’t have to think about it.
There are a huge amount of resources available for you to track your food. You can use:
• Note pad – keep it simple
• Wise Women Food diary template – you can download here
• Online note applications – Evernote is my favourite
• Online food diaries – Evernote Food is good for this
• Paid food trackers – Weight Loss resources –with comprehensive UK food database.
You might find you eat the same foods quite regularly which can make this process quite easy. However if you eat out a lot you will not have any access to a food label and you will have to go online and try to find something similar. Which becomes a guesstimate.
Reviewing your foods diary
There are often a few eek moments when you review your foods and you discover even though something is healthy it is also calorific. Decided whether you are going to tweak or toss it. If you are tweaking it find out portion size, then eat a bit less than it!
Food is to be enjoyed
We all love a little indulgence and often find during this review process that our little indulgences can actually be a bit chunk of our daily allowance.
Have a think about what percentage of your daily allowance should be a treat. For some 10% is good for others they have something specific they enjoy and need to fudge the figures.
Make sure you have food you enjoy and don’t feel that you have to exclude all our favourite foods, just know that we have to make choices in the same way that we chose how we spend our money.
You don’t get a refund on food so make your choices count. Be fussy with your food. I love bread but I don’t eat it every day and when I do it is fresh bread from the wee bakers up the hill, I don’t eat cheap supermarket bread.
So where do you waste your calories and what can you be fussy about?
This is often when you realise that you have cravings, which are quite common when you are perimenopausal. You decide not to eat something and without consciously thinking about you have eaten more of something than you wanted to. Which is goes back to balancing your hormones. Here is a food diary which ask you to monitor your hunger, energy & craving levels rather than calorie intake
Top takeaways for calorie review
- work out your BMR – you might have 2 figures one for sedentary days and one for more active days.
- take a note of what you are eating and then total the calories for each day
- work out breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks & treats totals per day
- review and decide what changes you need to make to keep
repeat as often as you need to!
Samantha Valand is the founder of Wise Women Wellbeing Academy.
A comprehensive hub of resources on hormone balancing, healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years and beyond.