It usually comes as a shock when we find out how little we are really designed to eat on a day to day basis. Upon this shocking revelation, it is then hammered home how we have evolved to eat increasingly more and more - so much so that on a daily basis most people consume just about double (if not more than double) the amount of calories their bodies require. It's no mystery what the end result of this type of evolution is: excess weight.
It's also no mystery that portion sizes have just gotten way outta control, and our health bears the brunt of this phenomenon in terms of skyrocketing obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Some may remember how years ago those old fashioned portion charts were commonly used as reference guides to dole out servings: a fist sized portion of pasta, a deck-of-cards sized portion of meat. these guidelines were established so that you didn't have to worry about counting calories: if you minded your portions, you pretty much were golden--no counting needed.
However, in today's world just try to get away with serving someone a meager portion like that! Controversy and scandal! Not to mention, your business quickly going out of business.
And so, let's take a look at a what a typical caloric requirement is and how much food it actually translates into.
Meet Steve. Steve is a 40 year old averaged sized man, 5'10", medium build, 175 lbs. and exercises three times a week. Based strictly "on the numbers" (age and height), Steve ought to weigh anywhere between 130 lbs. and 175 lbs. This wide range takes into account his skeletal frame size: a smaller boned man will weigh less than a larger framed man. In this case, Steve's weight is teetering at the upper end of the spectrum because he is of medium build, but nevertheless he is in the healthy range.
Okay, so again, based strictly on numbers, the caloric need for a man of Steve's size is 2250 to 2350 calories per day, which we will set at 2250. Remember, calories are a unit of measurement to determine the amount of energy that is in a food as well as how much energy (units) a food is going to give your body. Our bodies need energy to run, just as a car needs gas to run, so this number - 2250 - is the amount of energy that Steve's body needs to run: to breathe, pump blood, remove waste, digest, stand up, walk, talk...you get the picture. 2250 sounds like a big enough number, right? Ahh...this is where the truth steps in.
Here's kind-of what he had for dinner:
The very first step in modifying your eating habits is always always always reducing your portion size, because when you reduce portions, you automatically reduce calories without having to actually "count" them. And now you can see why. If Steve had eaten the second dish, he would have more-than-doubled just his dinner calories. Again, we're just talking dinner here.
Subliminally, you can also see how those "extra" calories like those that come from sodas and beer, not to mention "blind nibbling" like the four forkfulls of macaroni salad he ate - all count, and all have the potential to make the pounds creep up on you, leaving you scratching your head and saying "But I hardly eat anything!"
Thanks for reading,
"Planting your nutrition seed for the day."
*Here's a link to a pocket-sized portion guide: portion-size-pocket-guide