Vijaya Botla RD, LD
As a dietitian, if I got a dollar for each time a client said, “I don’t know why I’m so fat, I don’t eat that much” let’s just say I would be a very wealthy person! People tend to underestimate the number of calories they consume. The reason for this has a lot to do with our idea of what a portion or serving size of a particular food .
As I have mentioned in other articles, when we eat more calories than we burn off thru our daily activity, our body stores these excess calories as fat and over time the weight is packed on until we don’t recognize the person staring back at us in the mirror.
Our kids are taught to clean their plate and not waste any food even when they say they are full. We are teaching our children to ignore their bodies natural cues to stop and instead make them learn to overeat. Well, I am hear to tell you that it’s not too late to teach us to once again learn how to control the amount we eat to ensure that we stay healthy and fit. When we eat cereal in the morning, most of us don’t use a measuring cup to know how much cereal to put in the bowl.
The average person will eat anywhere from 2-3 cups of cereal when the serving size is actually one cup (now this is not using a coffee mug or drink cup but an actual measuring cup). So you are starting off the day by already eating more than what you thought. So take the time to see how much cereal you and your child should be eating by measuring it out one time and remembering how much that was.
Many of you will be shocked to see what a real serving looks like. If you change nothing else but the serving size of cereal at breakfast, you could save some 6,000 calories a month and lose 2 lbs or approximately one kg a month just from this one change! Paneer and other cheeses are delicious and are a great source of protein and calcium but they are also high in fat and calorie dense.
Did you know that a serving of cheese is 4 cubes each about the size of dice or a sugar cube and has 115 calories total? One cup of lowfat plain yogurt has 110 calories, the fruit flavor one has 170. Both cheese and yogurt are great to eat and can help keep you satisfied longer because they contain both protein and fat but make sure they are eaten in moderation.
We know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats and a serving size of 22 almonds has around 160 calories which is definitely calorie rich but cutting it to 15 almonds will make it 100 calories and a great snack to eat when you can’t wait for your next meal. Make sure to pack a snack size rather than a bag full of nuts otherwise you will be tempted to have just a few more. You won’t eat what you don’t have in front of you and your body will learn to adjust to these smaller serving portions.
Hot snacks like packaged boondi or sev are popular in India and so are snacks like potato chips and cookies and crackers are easy to find and quick to eat but these are loaded with fat and preservatives. There is a saying that none can eat just one cracker or potato chip.
Many times we end up eating a whole bag or packet. 12 small crackers or 15 potato chips are 150 calories and considered one serving. How much are you eating? The oils they are cooked in are usually made up of saturated or trans-fats which have been shown to increase our risk for heart disease and some cancers.
Our bodies are very resilient and can break down and get rid of most preservatives, but constant consumption of foods high in preservatives can cause our bodies harm in the long run. So, if possible limit the amount of these type of foods to once a week and make it a treat rather than a daily habit and watch your waist shrink as well.
By limiting fried snacks to once a week rather than daily, you could save as much as 15,000 calories a month or lose over 4 lbs a month (almost 2 kg). Small changes in portion sizes can have a big impact on your waistline so remember to make sure you are not underestimating your calorie intake.
To help you adjust to the smaller portions eat more fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water to help you fill up at meals and at snacktime. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help you feel fuller quicker. Remember to Be Fit. Be Cool.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the dietitian and may not reflect those of AAPI