article

Calorie Counts are Frequently Off

Posted on

Overall, as I’ve said many times, I tend to be a fan of calorie labeling in restaurants and other eating establishments because I think they motivate people to think a little more closely about what they want to “spend” their calories on the way we also consider what to spend our dollars on. I’ve also expressed that I worry that some people could become a little obsessed (who likely would look up calorie content online even if it weren’t posted on a menu), and unfortunately, this bit from Time isn’t going to help anyone chill out.

Susan Roberts, professor at Tufts, along with Jean Mayer of Tufts’ USDA Nutrition Research Center on Aging decided to analyze an array of restaurant and frozen food items, taking care to select the ones dieters might be most likely to reach for. Sure enough, the calorie counts posted on labels and menus were off by as much as 18% for restaurant foods and 8% for frozen foods.

I think the main thing I would take away from the article is that even when an item is said to contain a certain number of calories, your best bet is really to listen to the cues your body sends you. Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, for most people (myself included), sounds simpler than it is in practice, but mindful eating is something to work towards.

For a laugh, you could try practicing on a raisin. The Center for Mindful Eating is a really interesting organization, and their website is worth checking out. You might also want to read this post I wrote last summer for Five Seasons Healing, an acupuncture practice in Union Square.