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Counting Calories

What is it?

  • Counting calories means eating the right amount of food to keep a healthy weight. A calorie is a unit of energy that your body gets from food. Food calories give you energy for your daily activities. The number of calories you eat affects your weight. If you eat too many calories, you may be overweight. But you may be too thin if you do not eat enough calories. You should also eat the right foods to stay healthy.
  • Most men need 2200 to 3500 calories every day. And most women need 1600 to 2400 calories daily. You will need fewer calories if you are trying to lose weight. If you are trying to gain weight you will need more calories. People who exercise a lot or who have certain health problems may need more calories than others.

Care:

  • Your dietitian (di-uh-tish-un) will tell you how many calories you need every day. She will also tell you what types of food are good to eat for you to keep your best weight.
  • Food is lower in calories if it is prepared without added sugar, breading, or sauces. There are also fewer calories if food is not fried.
  • Limit the number of high calorie foods that you eat if you are trying to lose weight. Your dietitian can tell you which foods to avoid in each food group.
  • Read food labels to check the calories in packaged foods. The calories in each serving are listed just below the line that says "Amount per Serving" on the food label.
  • The calories listed beside each food in the lists below are the usual amounts in foods. You may get more calories from your food if you eat a larger serving. Certain brands of food may also have more calories than other brands. The calories in homemade foods will be different than store bought foods.

Serving Sizes:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of food is the size of a large handful.
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of food is about half of a large handful.
  • 1 tablespoon (Tbsp) is about the size of the tip of your thumb (from the last crease).
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) is about the size of the tip of your little finger (from the last crease).
  • A serving size means the size of food after it is cooked. Three ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards. One ounce of hard cheese is about a 1-inch (2.54 cm) cube.
  • A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup (1/2 handful) cooked or 1 cup (full handful) of raw vegetables.
  • Other:


  • The list below has 2 sections in each food group. The 1st section has lower calorie foods that have less fat or healthier kinds of fats. The 2nd section has foods that are higher in calories and fat and may have fats that are not good for you.

BREADS / STARCHES: Eat ____ calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1/2 of a 3-inch bagel (80)
    • 1 four-inch square slice bread (80)
    • 1 six-inch slice deli bread (120)
    • 1 two-inch square dinner roll (80)
    • 1/2 of an English muffin (75)
    • 1/2 of a hamburger bun or hot dog bun (80)
    • 1/2 cup cooked cereal (80)
    • 1 cup bran flake cereal (110)
    • 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, like kidney, pinto, lentils, white, or navy (115)
    • 6 saltine crackers (80)
    • 2 two-1/2 inch graham crackers (55)
    • 1/2 cup cooked mashed winter squash (80)
    • 1 cup cooked green lima beans or peas (120)
    • 1/2 cup cooked pasta (85)
    • 1/2 of a six-inch piece pita bread (65)
    • 1 six-inch ear corn on the cob (100)
    • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes or corn (90)
    • 1 six-inch baked potato (160)
    • 1/2 cup cooked rice (100)
    • 1 four-inch rice cake (40)
    • 1 eight-inch flour tortilla (100)
    • 1 six-inch corn tortilla (80)
    • 3/4 ounce lowfat tortilla or potato chips (90)
    • 3 cups air-popped popcorn without butter or oil (80)
    • 3/4 ounce pretzels (75)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1 cake donut (110)
    • 1 frozen waffle (140)
    • 3/4 cup granola (240)
    • 1 six-inch pancake (110)
    • 1 three-inch bran muffin (150)
    • 1 three-inch home made biscuit (150)
    • 1 five-inch plain croissant (275)
    • 1 eight-inch piece fry bread (365)
    • 1 small order french fries (210)
    • 1 ounce regular potato chips or tortilla chips (130)
    • 3 cups popcorn that has been popped in oil with added butter (145)

DAIRY: Eat ____ calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1-ounce lowfat cheese. This is cheese that has 3 grams fat in each ounce. (70)
    • 1/2 cup 1% fat cottage cheese (80)
    • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese (50)
    • 1 cup skim or 1% milk (90)
    • 1 cup 2 % milk (120)
    • 1 cup plain or sugar-free fat-free yogurt (90)
    • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk (80)
    • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk (110)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1/2 cup eggnog (175)
    • 1/4 cup half and half cream (80)
    • 1 cup whole milk (160)
    • 1 cup whole milk fruit yogurt (240)
    • 1 cup 2% fat chocolate milk (220)
    • 1 cup evaporated milk (340)
    • 1 cup hot chocolate made with whole milk (200)
    • 1 ounce semi-hard or hard cheese (120)

MEAT / MEAT SUBSTITUTES: Eat ____ calories each day from this food group. The portion sizes below are for cooked servings.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 3 ounces fish which is not breaded or fried (95)
    • 3/4 cup tuna canned in water (105)
    • 3 ounces salmon which is not breaded or fried (150)
    • 4 ounces chicken breast without skin (140)
    • 3 ounces turkey breast without skin (115)
    • 1 large egg (75)
    • 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute (40)
    • 3 ounces lean beef or pork (210)
    • 1/2 cup tofu (95)
    • 1/2 cup soy tempeh (165)
    • 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, like kidney, pinto, lentils, white, or navy (115)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 3 ounces bologna or lunch meat (225)
    • 3 ounces breaded, fried fish (195)
    • 1 fried chicken breast with skin (350)
    • 3 ounces corned beef (220)
    • 2 ounce hot dog (190)
    • 3 ounce fried pork chop (185)
    • 3 ounces ham (185)
    • 2 links sausage (140)
    • 3 ounces spare ribs (350)

VEGETABLES: Eat ____ calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1/2 cup steamed asparagus (20)
    • 1/2 cup bean or alfalfa sprouts (20)
    • 1/2 cup cooked beets or turnips (25)
    • 1 cup broccoli or cauliflower florets (25)
    • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (5)
    • 1 large raw carrot or 1/2 cup cooked carrot slices (40)
    • 1/3 medium cucumber or 1 stalk celery (5)
    • 2/3 cup cooked greens (20)
    • 1/2 cup green or wax beans (25)
    • 1/2 cup mixed vegetables without corn or peas (40)
    • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (10)
    • 1/2 cup chopped onions (30)
    • 1/2 cup chopped peppers (15)
    • 1 cup salad greens, like lettuce, spinach, or romaine (15)
    • 1/2 cup cooked summer or zucchini squash (25)
    • 1 medium tomato (25)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1 cup breaded, fried vegetables (230)
    • 1 cup steamed vegetables with cheese sauce (175)
    • 1 cup onion rings (325)

FRUITS: Eat ____calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1 six-inch banana (55)
    • 1 cup blueberries or raspberries (70)
    • 1 frozen fruit bar or 1/2 cup fruit sorbet (70)
    • 1/2 cup fruit canned in juice (55)
    • 1/2 of a four-inch grapefruit (55)
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice (60)
    • 15 grapes (60)
    • 1 kiwi fruit (45)
    • 1 cup melon cubes (50)
    • 1 medium orange or apple (70)
    • 1 large peach (65)
    • 1/2 of a large pear (65)
    • 2 small plums or 3 dried prunes (70)
    • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks (75)
    • 1-1/4 cup whole strawberries (45)
    • 2 small tangerines (60)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food
    • 1/2 cup canned fruit in heavy syrup (110)
    • 1 cup fruit nectar (140)
    • 1/2 cup fruit pie filling (100)
    • 1/2 cup grape, cranberry, or prune juice (90)
    • 1/3 cup raisins (130)
    • 1/8 of a whole fruit pie (295)

FATS: Eat ____________ calories each day from this food group.

  • Healthier choices that are lower in saturated fat. Calories are listed after the food.
    • 6 almond or cashew nuts (45)
    • 1/8 of a medium avocado (45)
    • 2 Tbsp guacamole dip (55)
    • 1 tsp oil, like safflower, canola, corn, or olive (45)
    • 2 Tbsp lowfat cream cheese (45)
    • 2 tsp lowfat margarine (50)
    • 1 Tbsp lowfat mayonnaise (50)
    • 2 Tbsp lowfat salad dressing (25)
    • 6 olives (30)
    • 2 tsp sesame tahini butter (45)
    • 10 peanuts or 2 tsp peanut butter (55)
  • Less healthy choices that are higher in saturated fats. Calories are listed after the food.
    • 2 slices bacon (90)
    • 1 Tbsp cream cheese (45)
    • 2 Tbsp half and half cream (50)
    • 1 tsp regular margarine (40)
    • 1 Tbsp regular mayonnaise (130)
    • 1 Tbsp regular salad dressing (60)
    • 1 Tbsp tartar sauce (70)
    • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening (215)
    • 1 Tbsp whipping cream (45)

DESSERTS / SWEETS: Eat ____ calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food.
    • 8 animal crackers (80)
    • 1 plain donut (105)
    • 1 frozen fruit juice bar (80)
    • 1/2 cup ice milk or lowfat frozen yogurt (90)
    • 1/2 cup sherbet or sorbet (125)
    • 1/2 cup sugar-free pudding or custard (60)
    • 5 vanilla wafers (80)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food.
    • 1 two-ounce cheese danish (195)
    • 1/8 of a whole fruit pie (295)
    • 1 iced or glazed donut (280)
    • 1/2 cup premium ice cream (220)
    • 1/2 cup regular ice cream (140)
    • 1/2 cup regular pudding or custard (175)
    • 1 two-inch square brownie (185)

COMBINATION FOODS: Eat ____________ calories each day from this food group.

  • Lower calorie food choices with calories listed after the food.
    • 1 bean burrito made with 8-inch tortilla and without cheese (275)
    • 1 chicken breast sandwich with lettuce and tomato (325)
    • 1 cup chicken noodle soup (60)
    • 1 hamburger with lettuce and tomato (300)
    • 1 lowfat frozen dinner (280)
    • 1 regular beef taco (175)
  • Higher calorie food choices with calories listed after the food.
    • 3/4 cup baked beans with sauce and ham (220)
    • 1 cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato (310)
    • 1/4 of a 12-inch cheese pizza (280)
    • 1 fried fish sandwich with lettuce and tomato (425)
    • 1 fried seafood entree with medium order fries (850)
    • 1 hot dog and bun (275)
    • 1-1/2 cups macaroni and cheese (310)
    • 1 taco salad with fried tortilla shell (870)

VERY LOW CALORIE FOODS: These are foods with 20 calories or less. Eat ____________ calories each day from this food group. Calories are listed after the food.

    • 1 cup boullion or fat-free broth (5)
    • 1 Tbsp catsup (15)
    • 1 cup club soda, seltzer water, diet soda pop (0)
    • 1 large dill pickle (15)
    • 1 Tbsp dried herbs or spices (5)
    • 1 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese (15)
    • 1 Tbsp fat-free salad dressing (10)
    • 1 Tbsp fat-free sour cream (15)
    • 1 tsp flavoring, like vanilla, almond, or lemon (5)
    • 2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice (10)
    • 2 tsp low sugar or light jam or jelly (15)
    • 1 tsp mustard (5)
    • 1/4 cup salsa (20)
    • 1 Tbsp steak sauce (15)
    • 1 sugar-free popsicle (15)
    • 1 Tbsp sugar-free syrup (15)
    • 2 Tbsp taco sauce (15)
    • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (20)
  • CALL YOUR CARE GIVER IF:
  • You have questions about the number of calories in foods that are not on this list.
  • You have questions about the serving sizes on this list.
  • You have questions about how to prepare or cook foods on this list.
  • You have questions about how or where to buy foods on this list.
  • You have questions or concerns about your illness, medicine, or this list.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn how to count calories. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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