Tally up what you’ve eaten today. Do it again and include every single nibble — did you get the same total? Those incidental bites you forgot about can be why that extra weight isn’t shifting. Here’s how to sharpen your memory.
If you’re following a healthy diet but can’t seem to lose weight — or, worse still, you’re actually gaining weight — it could be that you need to become more aware of the hidden kilojoules that you’re taking in each day.
Numerous studies reveal that most of us incorrectly estimate how many kilojoules we’re consuming, especially if we’re already overweight. One study found that adults tend to underestimate their daily kilojoule intake by a massive 25 per cent.
Even people following a weight-loss diet aren’t as clued-up as they think. A US study found female slimmers under-reported their kilojoule (calorie) intakes by 2000 kilojoules (almost 500cal) a day — enough to prevent them from losing half a kilo a week.
Most packaged foods come with nutrition information on the label, including the kilojoule content — so if you’re reading the labels, where are these extra kilojoules coming from?
Often kilojoules add up through mindless nibbling. It may be that leftover bit of jam toast from your child’s plate, the slice of cold ham you snacked on while waiting for dinner to cook, the cheese sauce you scooped up from the bottom of the pan after making lasagne, or the mint lollies you nibbled in the car. They all contain kilojoules. But because you’re only having a mouthful here and there, they don’t seem significant and it’s easy to forget about them. And that’s what some experts call ‘food amnesia’. When tallied up, these little mouthfuls amount to enough to prevent those unwanted kilos from dropping off.
To help you keep tabs on what you eat each day, we’ve mapped out the five ‘amnesia’ danger zones (see below), with tips on how to effectively deal with them.
How to avoid mindless nibbling
Keep a food diary for a week. Write down every single mouthful as soon as you have it — if you wait until the end of the day, you’ll have forgotten about those extra bites and sips. By the end of the week, you’ll be able to spot your food amnesia danger zones easily, and know when to exercise a little caution.
Keep sugar-free chewing gum on hand. When you’re in a situation where you know you’ll be tempted to nibble — be it preparing dinner, clearing away the kids’ leftovers or at a work function — pop a piece of gum into your mouth and chew on that instead of mindlessly eating.
If you really can’t resist the temptation to nibble, keep some healthy foods in easy reach. Try an apple, a container of raw vegie sticks or a handful of berries, rather than grazing on a chocolate biscuit or that leftover fish finger.
Food amnesia danger zones
These are the common areas where you might be unknowingly consuming extra kilojoules.
Cooking / clearing up
1 mouthful of fatty roast beef sliced from the end while joint is resting = 230kJ (55cal)
2 tablespoons leftover cheese sauce scraped from the pan = 350kJ (84cal)
1 slice of ham = 160kJ (38cal)
1/2 leftover roast potato dipped in gravy while clearing up = 200kJ (48cal)
1 tablespoon leftover cake mixture scraped from the bowl = 70kJ (17cal)
3 teaspoons homemade bolognese sauce ‘to taste’ = 180kJ (43cal)
1 leftover sandwich triangle from entertaining = 350kJ (83cal)
1 thin slice of cheese = 290kJ (70cal)
3 finger dips into a pot of hoummus = 95kJ (23cal)
Out and about
2 mint lollies = 100kJ (24cal)
3 jelly snakes 350kJ (84cal)
1 handful of peanuts in the pub = 700kJ (168cal)
1 sip of Coke from your partner’s can = 70kJ (17cal)
1 bite of your partner’s doner kebab = 200kJ (48cal)
5 M&M'S from a friend’s packet = 200kJ (48cal)
1 regular takeaway latte 650kJ = (155cal)
1 teaspoon peanut butter eaten from the jar while waiting for toast to pop up = 160kJ (38cal)
1 teaspoon chocolate spread eaten from the jar while waiting for toast to pop up = 100kJ (24cal)
extra 1/2 glass orange juice to empty the carton = 120kJ (29cal)
1 chocolate cream biscuit in a meeting = 300kJ (72cal)
1 teaspoon sugar in your coffee = 70kJ (17cal)
1 slice of cake for colleague’s birthday = 750kJ (180cal)
1 bite-sized chocolate brownie square from the office party = 230kJ (55cal)
1 wrapped chocolate from a box = 200kJ (48cal)