It would stand to reason that the weight of your food might be another way to identify how caloric your meal is as long as the portion sizes are equal. Let’s say we compared an apple to a brownie. I realize it seems silly, but stay with me a minute longer. If you ate a brownie the height and width of an apple with the apple only 70-90 calories, on average, while the brownie is 400-1500 calories for the same comparable size…well, see what I mean? We could go the other way a small slice of brownie about an inch by an inch might equal in caloric value to an entire apple!
This is what I mean by calorie density and it is an interesting way to look at food and decision making at mealtime. In the olden days and by that I mean the 1970’s, starvation diets were not popular. Behavior modification was a buzzword used often and we paid attention to portion sizes. We found alternate behaviors that did not involve food to get our minds off eating all the time. Food itself was not the crime and we were not viewed as criminals for liking high caloric dense foods like peanuts and brownies. We just ate them in reasonable amounts as part of a whole food balanced diet. No juices, no shakes with unidentifiable items in them and no starving yourself to prove something to others. We just exercised regularly, ate a balanced diet and had hobbies or read books or knitted things, anything to relax and take our minds off food. I am sad to say it is not like that today.
Today I am made to feel guilty all the time because I am not slurping a smoothie made with kale on my $500 blender. I also feel horrible that I am not running a triathlon every month. Really, has no one read the tortoise and the hare story? Our lives are a journey not a race. Some foods are to be savored and lingered over and are very much calorie dense like a perfect chocolate mousse. Not every day of course, but if you have talked yourself into kale smoothies you are going to miss one of the joys of life.
Recently, The Center for Science in the Public Interest via their Nutrition Action Newsletter put out a list of calorie dense foods sourced from book author, Barbara Rolls entitled, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, (William Morrow 2012). Here you will find a rank order of foods from very-low calorie dense foods to high-calorie dense foods, which might help you in your choices, as we head into the main part of our holiday eating. As you may have heard, we eat more calories in the weeks between Halloween and New Year’s than we do the entire remaining part of the year. Better decisions will be made if you are aware of the calorie density of the items you put on your plate this holiday season. Then when you begin the new exercise routine in January you might just make the goals you have set for yourself…it is worth a try!