More on tracking calories with exchange lists


"Tracking" your food will keep you "on track". (Photo by Ann Maniscalco)

 If you haven’t read my post from July 31st, please take a minute to check it out. The focus of the previous article was on using exchange lists to track calories instead of tracking each item of food eaten and its count. This blog will expand upon the last one a bit.

            When you’ve found some exchange lists (web sites in previous article), you may have gone through the different food categories to see the foods listed, and picked out those you eat most often. You might want to make a master list of these foods, to facilitate your menu (daily meals) plan. Here’s an abbreviated example, based on my faves:


  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • ¾ cup Cheerios
  • 4 slices melba toast
  • ½ cup brown rice


  • ¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 ounce baked chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ounce deli ham

        Then, to track these items, you could create a spreadsheet, or a simple chart (food journal). For example, I’ve chosen to follow a 1400-calorie meal plan. So I will list the different food groups and number of exchanges for each:

Starch: 1.                   2.                  3.                  4.                  5.                  6.

Meat/protein: 1.                     2.                  3.                  4.                  5.                  6.

Non-starchy vegetables: 1.                 2.                  3.                  4.

(Continue for the Fruit, the Dairy and the Fat groups)

         Now my actual chart doesn’t look like this, but it can give you a guide if you’d like to try the idea. By looking at my chart (food journal), I know I’m going to consume up to six starches, six proteins, etc. I can write in the foods as I eat them or plan my day’s meals and snacks in the morning. If I know I’m going to enjoy supper out, I’ll adjust the earlier meals to save enough “exchanges” for the evening. If lunch will be late, I’ll eat a bigger breakfast. I incorporate snacks, too, and avoid skipping meals to avoid becoming overly-hungry (a big weight-loss saboteur).

            The exchanges are a guide that helps me plan well-rounded meals from the basic food groups. Some days I may go over on the meat, and cut back on the milk. Or I’ll have an extra fruit, and not as many veggies. Over a week’s time, I may have some slip-ups, but with a plan written out, I’m more likely to “just say no” to choices that aren’t going to lead me toward my goal.

 Thought for today:

“The road to success is always under construction.” (copied)

***A note from Slimvictory: your comments are invited and appreciated. if you’d like to receive new blogs by email as they post, please sign up on my home page.




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Filed under calorie reduction, counting calories, food, healthy eating, healthy weight loss, menu planning, nutrition data

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