2 Simple Alternatives to Counting Calories

Published by FitWatch

If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of calorie counting.  There’s nothing like being aware of how many calories you eat in a day to really put your eating habits in perspective.  That’s one of the reasons why I created the FitWatch Fitness Tracker, so you can keep track of your calories online.

But what if you’re not into counting calories or you want to take a break from counting calories?  How else can you not go overboard with eating?

Here are two simple alternatives to counting calories: 1) Measure portions

Start developing a feel for how much a portion of each food group should be.  For example, one serving of fruit is a half cup; one serving of grains would be one slice of whole grain bread or 1/2 cup of brown rice, and so on.  Figure out how many servings per day would allow you to hit your calorie count, and then aim for that many servings daily.  It won’t be exact, but very close.  The biggest challenge will learning how much food is a serving.  You may have to weigh and measure for a little while until you get the hang of it, but from then on you’ll be able to “eyeball” it.

See:  7 Things You Need to Know About Serving Sizes

2) Gauge Hunger

Unless you have an abnormally large appetite, it’s very possible to lose weight simply by making a commitment to eat only when you feel physically hungry.  Start by creating a rating scale for intensity of hunger.  Zero means you aren’t hungry at all; 10 means you are absolutely starving.  Before you eat anything throughout the day, take a moment to assess just how hungry you are.  If your intensity of hunger is anything below a 7, hold off eating for a little while until you are very hungry.

Using this method successfully is dependent upon three things:


It’s vital to become familiar with the signs of actual physical hunger.  Growling stomach, feelings of weakness or shakiness, faint headache, hollow feeling in the stomach - there are several different ways your body lets you know it needs fuel.  It does take practice to decipher these signals because sometimes other conditions can make you think you are hungry when you really aren’t.

See:  What’s the Difference Between Appetite and Hunger?


Even once you clearly know when you are physically hungry, the temptation to trick yourself will sometimes be present.  For example, when you are on edge emotionally, you may try to convince yourself that you are really hungry just because you want to soothe yourself with food.  It takes discipline to find other ways to soothe yourself and stick to your commitment to eat only when you are physically hungry.

Modest portions

One last thing to keep in mind: when you wait until you are “very hungry” to eat, there will be a temptation to eat more than you really need at each sitting.  For this reason it’s best not to wait until you are ravenous before eating - just hungry enough to know that your body is definitely requesting food.  Then you’ll find it easier to keep your portions in check. 

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