Q: I really don't eat a lot but my weight keeps going up. Why is that?
A: Aside from having any medical issues that may be affecting your weight, are you record keeping? Studies have shown that when people do not keep food records, they can underestimate their intake by as much as 40%. This can add to a lot of extra calories!
Lets go through a day of eating that one of my patients experienced. This person was not record keeping and thought that he was taking in about 1,800 calories each day. He also told me that he was eating healthy foods most of the time. I was able to convince him to write down every single thing that he ate throughout the day. It was most revealing. In addition to his usual meals, he realized how many other calories he had been taking in:
After arriving at work, he had one small donut from the tray in the break room = 60 calories
For lunch, he had a burger and forgot to leave the dressing off = 100 calories
After lunch, he had two breath mints = 40 calories
In the afternoon, he was a little hungry so he had half of a power bar = 150 calories
Before dinner, he had just a handful of peanuts = 162 calories
Before going to bed, he had a few chips and an orange = 120 calories
When he totaled this up, he was over his calorie budget by 632 calories!
Record keeping, if done correctly, can help you to be more aware of exactly what you are taking in each day. We often go throughout the day and snack mindlessly not even being aware of the little bites we take here and there. Those tiny bites add up and can take us over our calorie budget. When this is done day after day, weight creeps up little by little. Before you know it, you are carrying an extra 20 lbs and wondering, How did that happen?
National Weight Control Registry
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. Given the prevailing belief that few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss, the NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. The NWCR is tracking over 5,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. One characteristic common to these people who have successfully maintained their new weight is that they continue to keep a food record.
Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.