Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exactly How Much Are You Eating?

Recently, I was watching TV and saw that commercial (you know, the one with the blonde model) for yogurt that is much lower in calories than the “other fat free yogurt.” When I compared the two at the store, I discovered that the lower calorie option was also proportionately smaller in size than the larger, higher calorie container. It caused me to remember that advertisers can be tricky and you might actually be eating more than you realize. Diet is such a large, important component to a successful weight loss plan. So, what are the keys to keep a realistic look at what you’re eating on a daily basis?

Let’s start with revisiting a previous topic: read the label. That little thing is so full of information, it’s amazing. Look at the serving size, and then the related information such as calories, calories from fat, etc. When you are comparing two similar products, see if the serving size is the same so you are able to make an educated decision which item is better suited for you and your weight loss goals. My favorite item on which to test this approach is cereal boxes. For the most part, they have the same serving size, so it’s easy to compare calories. One cereal might be 110 calories per half cup, while the next one over might be 190 calories for the same half cup.

Another way to get a good estimate of how much you are eating is to pour it out. I know it seems silly, but it can be quite informative. With so many items in single serving containers making it easy to eat on the go, it’s easy to lose track of how much you are consuming. The other day, I wanted to add some Grape Nuts to my yogurt for some crunch, so I poured it out of the single serving container into a bowl. It turns out that 6 ounce container has quite a bit of yogurt crammed inside. The yogurt I had is 100 calories for that container. Now imagine one of those 100 calorie packs of cookies or crackers and how little is in those packages. Next, take a look at an apple, even add a little peanut butter. These three items are all about the same in calories, but some offer a healthier choice than others.

Lastly, there is the good ole boring but effective option: measure it out. Some morning, just for giggles, measure out that half cup serving size and see how it compares to what you pour any other morning. Most people don’t eat just one serving, usually it’s much more. In fact, I heard the other day that some food companies are altering their serving sizes to match what people actually consume. I’m guessing the labels will show some much higher numbers than they do now for many products.

Portion size can be so distorted, it’s no wonder some people aren’t aware of how much they eat in a day. Keep an eye on your portions, try to make the better choice, and look forward to losing weight!