If you just shrugged your shoulders signaling an "I have no clue" response, you are not alone. Most of us pay no attention to the amount of calories we consume on a daily basis. Most of us check the price before we buy a food item. Would it be wrong to suggest that we just as importantly and intently check the calories per serving as well?
If you have two eggs for breakfast with a piece of toast, you should have some idea that this meal would equal about 210 calories. If you pour some cereal in a bowl and add milk, the amount of calories can vary wildly depending on how much you pour. Would it take long to measure both the cereal and the milk so you are aware of your total calories for that meal? Of course not.
If you know how many calories you consume each day by looking at labels and measuring serving sizes, you will either lose weight or maintain your already healthy weight. Writing down what you eat or recording calories is as annoying as finding time to exercise each day. Both usually take a back seat to jobs, family, and general rest and relaxation time. Unless they take a jump to the front, it will not last very long. Just as some people slowly fall away from exercising, counting calories will fall as well. This is why many people succeed in losing weight but gain it back.
Try this fun exercise the first week to get yourself started: If you are a female, assume your total daily calories should hover around 1,600 to 1,800 per day (depending on your activity level). This is about 12,000 calories per week. Men, you get about 2,000 calories per day or 14,000 per week. Start the calorie countdown on Monday morning and subtract every calorie you eat from your 12,000. Try to make healthy food choices, but to start, just look at total calories. By Sunday night, you should be at or near zero calories left. This will give you a good starting point on your typical eating habits and daily calories consumed.
Once you get into it, the easier it will become and, eventually, you come to a point where you will just mentally add up your calories each day to get a ballpark figure.
• Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit www.nutritiontoyou.com.