I have learned this from personal experience. It's not an easy fact to grasp, but when one makes peace with it one is able to move on.
There are calories practically everywhere. In anything one can chew. Anything casually sipped. Anything one can mindlessly pop into one's mouth.
And once it's in, it stays. The human body can deal with too little calories better than when inundated with surplus. Meaning it is all too easy to go overboard.
I was unpleasantly surprised when I finally learned how to translate nutrition facts. Often what constitutes a serving is ridiculously small.
. . . a single cookie [can] contain 700 calories,” Dr. Nestle said. “You may want that cookie, but then you can’t eat anything else. Cookies didn’t used to be this big.” Nor were bagels, now 500 or 600 calories each . . . . Dr. Young. . . asked the students in her nutrition class how many calories were in a Double Gulp . . . She’d already told them that an eight-ounce soda has 100 calories, but the students guessed a Double Gulp contains less than 400 calories. When Dr. Young asked why their estimate was off by 100 percent, they simply said, “800 calories — that can’t be!”
. . . A serving of ice cream is just a half-cup, a burger is three ounces, and uncooked pasta is merely two ounces. A pound of pasta, therefore, should feed eight people, not two or four; two ounces per serving is about what Italians consume as a first course. A typical American restaurant meal is more like dinner for two . . . She recently found at one New York restaurant that a “personal-size pizza” contained 2,100 calories, the amount the average woman needs in a day.
It is downright depressing.
Thankfully, Dr. Young recommends that which I do already:
“I don’t count calories, and I don’t recommend counting calories,” Dr. Nestle said. “I recommend eating food. You have to pay attention to eating better and in moderation: plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains in reasonable portions, and not too much junk food.”
She applauded the current campaign by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to get people to stop “pouring on the calories” by consuming fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
As I mentioned before, with healthy foods one gets more bang for their calorie. Restaurants don't care what they slap on your plate; I just can't trust anyone, including myself, when it comes to eating out. As for not drinking calories, the only way to do that safely is to only gulp water.
Want to blame just one ingredient, like high-fructose syrup? Nope, that won't do; weight issues have many factors, not just one. And just because something claims to be healthy doesn't mean it is. Use your sechel, and really go over the nutrition facts and ingredients.