I was sitting outside in sunny southern California in the patio of a popular restaurant. It was a gorgeous evening – 80 degrees, sun was setting and I was decompressing from a day at the office, waiting for friends. As I checked out the menu, I noticed that the calorie content of every dish and most beverages was right next to each item. WOW! I was blown away at the calorie content of some of the dishes – the salads, in particular. What was more amazing was the impact this had on my behavior. And the reason it had such a big impact was because I knew two critical pieces of information for weight control: 1) How many calories I burned that day and 2) how many calories I had eaten already. So, I knew how many calories I could eat in order to avoid gaining weight that day. And guess what? I made my dinner choice based on that information. What would I have done otherwise? I would’ve went for my favorite salad (BBQ chicken) and been way over my calorie limit for the day. Translation – I would’ve gained weight.
This experience completely reinforces one of dotFIT’s core messages – you CAN manage your weight if you have the right information to help you make decisions (we call this cognitive control). And I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” I think that’s why keeping a food log is the most powerful weight control tool yet- tracking the calorie content of the foods you eat makes all the difference, just like it did for me at this restaurant. Even better – knowing your calorie balance (how much you’re burning versus eating). So kudos to California Pizza Kitchen for publishing the calories on their menus. Other places are doing the same and we hope to see the entire food and restaurant industry follow suit. Remember, it’s much easier to eat too much than to cut back and it seems the only way (besides surgery) to properly control your weight is to use your brain – by seeing or knowing how much you burn, how much you eat and how many calories is contained in food you can then adjust your behavior. If you choose not to do this, you’re highly likely to pack on the pounds as you get older…. Look around, do you know anyone who stays lean without trying? If you do, I guarantee they’re the exception, not the rule.
Take control – it’s never too late to start, it’s always too late to wait.
Kat Barefield, MS RD