My Thursday morning routine usually consists of seeing my hospital patients in the morning before heading off to see my patients in the office. As per usual, I put my lunch in the fridge in the hospital doctor’s lounge on my arrival with the intent of picking it up on my way out the door when I headed to the office later in the morning. Alas, I was in my usual harried state and forgot to get my lunch. For me, no lunch is a crisis. I get cranky. Fortunately, there’s always a nosh lying around the staff lounge at the office. I figured I would get a little something to hold me over until I could get back to the hospital in the afternoon. I grabbed a handful of pretzel rods thinking it was a relatively ‘healthy’ thing to eat. I had about 15 or so, nothing outlandish. It wasn’t like I was eating the ice cream cake that was in the freezer. After I munched away I plugged the snack in to myfitnesspal.com to update my diary. I was nearly thrown off my chair when I realized that each rod had 25 calories. My “little” snack had almost 400 calories! One and a half slices of ice cream cake have fewer calories than that. I wasn’t even full. This reinforced a powerful message on the reason why people are gaining weight at such alarming rates. People (myself included) just aren’t aware of how many calories they are consuming. It cannot be understated how important it is to be aware of what you are eating and how food has changed over the decades. Becuase of this I am now challenging you to take the portion size quiz on this website to see how you do.
I believe that the change in portion size and nutritional content of the food we eat is one of the primary driving forces behind the obesity epidemic. It probably is a major reason behind your personal weight struggles as well. The scary thing for me is how unaware people are of how the food industry has manipulated the foods we eat. Without your knowledge, the food you are accustomed to eating regularly has slowly and insidiously increased in calories. One of the hardest parts about losing weight is that we and our fellow human beings are notoriously inaccurate at estimating how many calories we consume or burn. One of the reasons that we have such difficulties is that the same foods we consume today are significantly higher in calories than they used to be.
What follows is a rehashing of a prior post on the explosion in portion sizes over the past couple decades but the important is so important it needs repeating. Here are a few more examples from the CDC:
As you can see from this picture, if you have been used to eating a bagel for breakfast every morning, you are getting an additional 210 calories per day that you weren’t getting 20 years ago. This could lead to an additional 20 pounds per year gained! All from a bagel and not being aware of the calories you are consuming. To burn those extra calories you’d have to do yard work for almost an hour.
The difference from this common dining out offender is enough to add more than a few inches to the waistline. You’d have to run on a treadmill at 5 mph for over 45 minutes to make up for that difference. And that’s not including the all-you-can-eat salad and breadsticks!!
You won’t just be supersizing your meal, you’ll be supersizing your waist if you get this order of fries. You’d have to take a walk for almost two hours to make up the difference from just the fries, not to mention the supersized soft drink.