I was talking with a friend the other day and she was bemoaning the fact that she was having trouble losing weight after the birth of her baby. (Her baby is now 18 months.) I told her that I completely understood but didn’t offer any advice because unless you ask me, I’m not going to just tell you what I think! (Good to know if we ever meet in person. 🙂 )
Anyway, she did ask me if I had any words of wisdom and not being able to think of anything profound at the moment, I asked her what she was eating. She is a great cook and serves her family healthy meals. She said she was having small snacks throughout the day and eating reasonable portions of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I asked her about her snacking choices. She said, “I know to choose healthy snacks so I eat almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and dried fruit.” Immediately my antenna went up.
I said, “How much of those snacks are you eating?” She explained that she would have a few handfuls of nuts and maybe a handful each of chocolate chips and dried fruit. I told her, “That’s probably a lot of your problem.” We looked on my phone and she was shocked to discover that a handful of almonds has about 300 calories, a handful of chocolate chips (4 tablespoons) has 280 calories, and that just 1/4 cup of raisins has 130 calories.
If she had that every day, that would be over 700 calories in snacks. In small snacks.
I told her that if she wanted to eat those foods then to make sure to measure them first so she would be able to allow for those calories in her day. She assured me that she would stop reaching her hand into the nut container, stop pouring a “few” chocolate chips into her hand, and to measure any dried fruit she ate.
This conversation made me realize how important portion control is. Not just being aware of the huge servings we have to watch out for in restaurants, but the portion sizes of small foods as well. It is so easy to grab a handful of this or a small bag of that and not realize how those calories affect our weight management goals.
While you may never eat your entire plate of pasta at Olive Garden because you know it has more calories than you need, you may inadvertently eat more small food calories than you intend.
As you are walking your path, I’d encourage you to be mindful of the calories in little foods and learn how tiny a portion of popular healthy choices of chocolate or nuts really is. After all, as the picture on the top of the post shows, just a single tablespoon of chocolate chips is 6 percent of a 1,200 calorie diet. That’s not bad at all, but if you eat 4 tablespoons, then that becomes 23 percent of a 1,200 calorie diet. Big difference!
Are there any small foods that you have learned to be mindful of how much you are eating? Any tips for us in controlling the portion sizes? Diane