Anyone reading this blog for very long (or who has read the articles on the Green Mountain website) probably knows I’m not a big fan of calorie counting, or of trying to figure out how many calories we burn with physical activities. This way of living (if you can call it that) just isn’t intuitive. It takes too much of our attention away from the important things in life, and if we learn to support and listen to our bodies, e.g. mindful eating and living, we can know intuitively when we’ve eaten as many calories as we need, or when we need to go burn a few.
Even so, when the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) introduced a new online tool to help people realize how much food portions have grown in recent years, I thought it worth letting folks know about it. It’s all focused on calories, but if we can step back and look at calories as an indicator of portion size (not some inherent goodness or ‘badness’ in a food or some other distorted way we tend to use calorie information), they can tell us a lot about an important topic. The tool is called the Portion Distortion Interactive Quiz.
Unfortunately, research shows that if we don’t pay attention to our internal cues, we tend to mindlessly eat what’s set in front of us. So whether it’s a 1980’s cheeseburger that contained about 300 calories, or today’s cheeseburger that contains closer to 600, we down it without stopping to assess whether we’ve had enough before it’s all gone. Regular eating like that can mean regular overeating, which can mean body weights that are higher than might be good for us. And for many of us, just cutting back portions to the 1980 size can be enough to help us lose weight, returning us to our natural healthy weight without a lot of effort.
So take a moment to check out NHLBI’s new quiz. At the least, you’ll probably have a little fun with it. And you might learn something!