I hate restaurants! Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong but it took me a long time to find out that they were definitely not my friends. . .
Let’s have a quick little story:
Cindy lives by herself and works in an office about 35 minutes from her home by transit. She has to be at work by 8:00 am and has a 15 minute coffee break at 10 am and lunch from noon to 12:30. In the afternoon, she has another break at 2:30 and goes home at 4:30. By that time, she is tired, stressed out by work worries, difficult clients and the ride home on the hot, overloaded bus.
That doesn’t sound too different than my day. . . how about yours?
Let’s look at the food choices that Cindy made during the day.
Cindy climbed out of bed at 6:30 am to be on the 7:15 bus – no time for breakfast so she got a Latte and a scone from Starbucks beside the bus stop. At 10, she stopped for a coffee and finished the second half of her ‘breakfast’ scone. Finally, at lunch, she rushed to the Golden Arches near her office. She was starving, so had a burger and fries and a chocolate shake and rushed back in time for the afternoon’s clients. At 2:30, she had a coffee (when was it made – tastes like 8 hours ago??) and bought a cookie pack from the vending machine to carry her until dinner. Home at 5:15, change clothes, drop in front of the television for the news and then think about dinner. . . Cindy is tired, irritable and faced with an empty fridge, so she calls a friend to see if a dinner date at the local restaurant is a possibility. What luck! Dinner with Diana is a go – and consists of a Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and a ‘special’ coffee.
Doesn’t sound bad in terms of quantity of food for the day, but let’s have a closer look at the ‘real’ portions, that is, the number of calories and other significant ingredients in what Cindy ate, and for now we’ll ignore the quality of the food that was eaten. . .
Breakfast: none. The human machine runs on empty until it gets an ulcer-building Caffè Latte (190 calories, 7 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 12 grams of protein) and a blueberry scone (460 calories, 22 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein.) At lunch, Cindy has a burger (540 calories, 29 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbs, 24 grams of protein), an order of fries (560 calories, 27 grams of fat, 74 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein) and a shake (760 calories, 18 grams of fat, 136 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein.) Afternoon break was 2 Oreo cookies (320 calories, 7 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein) and dinner was a salad with chicken breast (1,190 calories, 75 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 68 grams of protein) and a coffee with Kahlua (182 calories, 0 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs, 0 grams of protein.) Totals for the day: (4,202 calories, 185 grams of fat, 398 grams of carbs, 134 grams of protein.)
Hold it! Let’s look at those numbers again! 4,202 calories and no large meals? Two and a half times the daily requirement for fat? One and a quarter times the daily requirement for carbohydrates and almost double the daily requirement for protein? And all that happened without a great deal of fiber, nutrients, vitamins, trace minerals. . . What the h*ll?
This is the long way around to explaining what “real” portions are. Real portions are the amount of fuel that you are putting in rather than the volume of products going into your mouth. It is not difficult to calculate what you need on a daily basis and then adjust what you eat by reading the fine print on the Nutrition Information panel on packaged foods and on the wall in fast food outlets. We have developed a Real Portion Calculator that you can use to check your diet and track your intake of fats, carbs and proteins which we will unveil in the next couple of weeks. . . you will be able to use it to keep track of your real food portions.
No more thinking you are doing “almost” the right thing when you’re actually eating way too much. You will be able to really take control of your portions! Good luck.