Do you ever feel like you are doing everything right and you still can’t lose weight? It may be that you are underestimating what you are eating. Don’t feel bad, according to research studies, 80% of people underestimate their food intake. This is easy to do because portion sizes have gotten so large that the average estimate of a cup of rice or 3 ounces of meat is still much larger than reality. One study done at St. Luke-Roosevelt Hospital Obesity Research Center found that participants were estimating that they were eating around 1,000 calories each day when in fact they were actually eating 2,000 calories.
You may also find you do a lot of unconscious eating throughout the day and research shows many people underestimate this as well. I tested myself one time with this concept. When I worked in a small hospital in California. There was a bowl of miniature Hershey’s chocolates in the manager’s office and there were always donuts, cookies, and Sees candies that various medical supply reps and families would bring in. I guessed that I was eating a couple of the chocolates and perhaps a cookie during the day. I put myself to the test and decided to mark down on a sheet of paper each time I ate some treats. The results surprised me. By the end of a typical day I had eaten 4 Hershey miniatures, 2 mints, 4 shortbread cookies, and 3 Sees candies. This adds up to a grand total of 596 calories and 35 grams of fat. It is easy to nibble on these little treats unconsciously throughout the day and they add up fast.
So what is the solution for this “underestimating what we eat” problem? For starters, measure your food in real measuring cups for a day. Get a feel for what a ½ cup of rice looks like on your plate. An easy way to do this is to use your ½ cup measuring cup as a scoop for rice, and pasta. They work well as a serving spoon. This will let you know if your food estimates are close or if they are way out in left field. This doesn’t mean you have to weigh your food for the rest of your life. You don’t have to be perfect…this is just an exercise in seeing what those portion sizes look like on your plate.
The second solution is to keep a detailed food journal. This is the best way to be accountable to your self and to bring any unconscious nibbling to the forefront. Research shows that people who keep food records achieve their weight loss goals more effectively. Get a small notepad and keep track for a week and see if you learn anything new about your eating habits.
Getting your portion sizes on track could be the answer to managing your weight.
About the Blogger:
Meri Raffetto is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, an author, triplet mom and dog butler. Learn more on our team page.