Think back to yesterday. Can you recall what you ate from the time you woke up until the time you went to bed?
Meals are probably fairly easy to remember, but what about all the little things — the snacks and small bites in between breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do any of these small-bite examples sound familiar?
- Your morning coffee is too strong so you add some French vanilla creamer to tone it down. (35 calories)
- The kids have breakfast bars and grape juice before school. There’s only about 1 cup of juice left in the pitcher — you finish it. (160 calories)
- A coworker brought donuts to share in celebration of National Doughnut Day. You had cereal at home, but it’s National Doughnut Day! You choose a glazed chocolate cake donut. (290 calories)
- You have lunch with friends and order a veggie-packed salad with grilled chicken, but forget to ask for low-calorie dressing on the side. (100 calories)
- Your breath isn’t exactly fresh after lunch so you have some breath mints. (40 calories)
- Your coworker just filled his candy jar with your favorite — dark chocolate Dove Promises. You grab two on the way to the mail room. You get two more as you leave for home. (42 calories each = 168 calories)
- While cooking dinner you snack on a low-fat cheese stick. (60 calories)
Grand total = 853 calories!
The health coaches at Ascension Via Christi Weight Management caution that mindless snacking and “little bites” like the examples above can equal big calories and are a primary reason we have trouble losing weight or maintaining our weight after successful loss.
For people trying to lose weight, the above tally spent on extra bites alone is probably more than half of a full day’s calories allotment! Because thirty minutes of exercise typically burns only 200 to 300 calories, that’s not going to be enough to counteract this type of eating behavior.
Unless you’re following a program for weight loss or weight management, you’re probably not journaling or paying close attention everything you eat. Just 100 extra calories per day means 10 pounds gained in a year. So it makes sense to keep a food journal to keep you aware of your eating habits and shed light on why you’re gaining weight or why your weight loss may have plateaued.
In addition, you must be getting regular exercise to lower your fat mass, gain muscle mass and burn more calories than you’re eating.
A key takeaway is this: no matter what you’re eating, if you’re taking in more calories than you need to keep your weight steady, and if you’re not burning off extra calories through exercise, it will be stored as fat and you will gain weight.
Try keeping a food diary for at least a week or two. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself skipping some of the extra bites because you don’t want to have to write the “cheat” item down. If you want real information about your eating habits in order to lose or maintain your weight, keeping a food diary and owning those “small bites” is a must.