Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 4th, 2011 - Day 26 of 60

So, let's say you are out shopping and you suddenly get hungry.  You don't have time for a sit-down meal, so you run into a fast-food place and order what looks to be a nice salad with some chicken.  You figure this is a good choice as it is certainly healthier than most of their fat-laden products and it will fit in with your new lifestyle quite well.  You check the handy nutritional information poster hung on the wall (out of the goodness of their hearts, of course) and see that your salad has 290 calories.  Perfect.  You get your salad and are given your choice of dressing.  You go home and think of how good that salad tasted and that you'll do it again sometime.  Well, sometime is the next day.  And this repeats for days on end.  That is a mighty-good salad. After a few weeks you weigh yourself and find that you've gained a pound rather than kept things at bay.  How could this be?  Your salad only had about 290 calories.  Could it be off that much?  Or, is it that you didn't consider the dressing?  The nutritional information for that salad was ONLY for the salad.  It didn't include the dressing.  That Creamy Caesar dressing added another 190 calories (as well as fat and sodium).  Staggering.  Tasty, yes, but it is those unseen things that can add up.

Or, let's even make it easier:  You are out running around and feeling hungry but you don't have time for a meal of any sort.  You spot a vending machine and give in to your desire.  You've been good, so why not?  You pass the chips and candy and discover a granola bar sitting there looking lonely.  You purchase it and go on your way.  The first thing is, that granola bar pretty much IS a candy bar.  But, besides that, how do we really know what is in there?  Yeah, I know, the wrappers says so, but do you really know?  No, unless you are food scientist with access to sophisticated equipment, you just don't know.  You have to take it on faith.  When you see general information about nutrition, you are getting round numbers.  Now, if there is any benefit to refined food it is that it is engineered to precise specifications.  It is extruded in just the proper size, shape and volume to ensure consistent taste and quality (such as it is).  So, when you eat that granola bar or bagel or cube of chocolate you are fairly certain that it is pretty close to the last one you ate.  We all probably know someone who is on a diet that requires pre-packaged food to be purchased.  I've seen people bringing them into work by the crate.  If it works for you, that is great.  For me, it seems so sterile.  But at least you know what you are getting. In that way, refined foods are helpful. 

But when you grow food or hunt for food or just wing it, you may not be as certain what you are getting.  An apple is an apple, but I'm sure that not all apples are created equal.  Same goes for cuts of meat.  Same goes for nuts. It makes it a bit more difficult when you are trying to lose weight if there are no bar codes or labels.  Now, if you are like me (and I pity you if you are) you want to know things.  You want to know how, when, why, who, where, what and who at any time.  When you are Rebooting you are probably not having any issue losing weight.  You may be going a bit batty from lack of chewing, but you are doing alright otherwise.  Eventually, the time will come when you need to start eating with a bit of a plan.  Some people like to be overly-precise, some wing it a bit,  but most like to have a vague idea of what to do.  So, how do you get a little feedback on your plans?  Well, you could go to a nutritionist (I think they used to be called "Dietitian"), but that might get expensive.  If you have medical insurance and can get a referral, that might be a way to go (assuming your nutritionist isn't old-school and insist you eat from the "four food groups" to be healthy).  A better way to go might be digital.

There is no end to the nutritional programs you can try.  Some work on-line, some work on Windows, some work on Mac, some work on Linux and some work on multiple formats.  There are lots of free programs and lots of programs you must buy.  You can get them for you iPhone, your Android phone or your iPad.  If you are only interested in the caloric value of foods with information on fats, carbohydrates and protein, it is a lot easier.   But for me, I want to know it all.  That makes it pretty tough.  One can purchase "Nutribase Personal" or "Nutribase Personal Plus" programs.  That is a pretty respected name in nutritional software, but it isn't always cheap.  The "Personal Plus" version adds a lot of nutrients that the "Personal" version leaves out.  But compared to the "Professional" version, they are both wimpy.  The software will run you from $50 to $70 for those two version.  The "Professional" versions are in the several hundreds of dollars.  A bit out of my league, but it covers it all. If you prefer on-line action, there are great web sites out there that offer nutrition tracking as well as support.   In that category are "" and "".  Some of the web sites seem cheap and undermaintained, some seem too slick and lack depth.  The two I mentioned seem pretty good.  I'm sure there are others.

But, I found that a pretty good web site for basic nutrition tracking and less glitz is "".  It lets you create an account and add foods to a log that will track your nutrients in a customized way (like breakdown of percentages for fats, proteins and carbohydrates).  It tracks nutrients fairly well, but not as well as the pro software I mentioned earlier.  It lets you add foods and create recipes.  It has a sort-of diary and other interesting things.  But, even with all those items it still is pretty simple to use.  It has the option to upgrade to a "Gold" version that has "Trends", an app for your Android phone, support, etc.  For someone who just wants to know how they did that day with calories and nutrients, it is pretty good.  The one down-side I noticed was almost no good support for juice.  And, of course, why would there be?  Who wants to know the nutritional value of celery juice and spinach juice other than nuts like us?  So, this software is geared more toward your post-Reboot nutrition. There are probably better apps, but this one is free and it accesses many of the best up-to-date nutrition databases as a reference.  You can get it from any web browser, so long as you have access to the Internet. I also have a locally installed application on my laptop called "Nut" that works well, but isn't nearly as easy to use or as comprehensive as ""

For myself, I just want a basic guideline.  I want to know if I am in the nutritional ballpark and where I am on calories and the breakdown of fat, carbohydrates and protein.  I love that there are more nutrients listed, but not all food values in the accessed databases include all nutrients (that is an issue with databases, not the program). "Cronometer" looks like a good fit for me.  So, if you are the sort of person who needs to know everything and also wants to see how you are doing on your new nutritional path, these sort of apps are a good start.  While we may not "know" how many calories are in that Braeburn apple, we'll have a general figure.  And, speaking of figures, I hope yours is slimming down as you read.

I am 40% through the 60 days.

Weight: 149.7 lbs.
Up again. :(

Food: Fruit/Veg Smoothie With Hemp Seeds
Had four of these.

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