But I Don’t Eat That Much!

serving sizesI was sitting in the nurses station at the hospital yesterday when I overheard the telemetry tech talking with one of the nurses about her weight loss plans. My ears perked up and I eavesdropped on their conversation. Perhaps this wasn’t the polite thing to do but considering this weight loss education hobby of mine I let my curiosity win the day.  The telemetry tech was talking about how she was trying to eat more healthy but still wasn’t losing weight. She gave as an example the ‘healthy’ snack she was holding in her hand. She had a bag of trail mix that had only 175 calories. It was all-natural and earthy so it must be better than all that industrially processed stuff you get from the snack machine.

trailmixYou can imagine her chagrin when I pointed out that the trail mix had 175 calories per serving and that there were 4 servings in a package.  This means she was eating 700 calories worth of snack – an amount equivalent to 1 1/2 Big Mac’s or 2 1/2 slices of pizza. The disappointment swept across her face as she despondently looked at the relatively small bag.  I could see her doing a visualization of how little quantity 1/4 of that bag seemed to her.

I had another patient in my office whom I was discussing weight loss with. She put forth one of the most common complaints that I hear – she didn’t eat that much but still couldn’t lose weight. On further questioning I asked her about the things she eats. It turns out that she is a big fan of Raisin Bran and was was eating a big bowl with milk every morning.  wo cups of Raisin Bran with one cup of milk would not seem an unusually large amount of food but comes in at almost 600 calories.

raisin branThis is not to say that Raisin Bran or trail mix are not good sources of nutrition, they certainly are. But it all brings us back to a common refrain on this blog which these two case studies illustrate. If you’re not paying close attention to what your eating – including measuring serving sizes – your probably have no idea how many calories you’re consuming.  I cannot overstate how easy it is to consume large amounts of calories eating “not that much.”

So if you are one of those people who is struggling to lose weight in spite of “eating healthy” or “not eating that much” it would be a very good idea to keep a food diary or use a calorie counting app to honestly assess how much you actually are eating.  It may be more than you thought.

Keep in mind that this is good news. If you truly do cut down on your calorie intake you are very likely to be successful with weight loss. For more on the topic check out these earlier posts:

In fact, while your at it, check out all the posts and send them to your friends, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  There just isn’t a lot in the way of truth out there so the only way to educate the masses is to spread the word.  Thanks!

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