Think you’re good at guessing how many calories you’re eating when you pick up a dessert or snack? What about your favorite Starbucks order? Store chains are increasingly providing nutrition info for the foods they sell, which had traditionally been tucked away in easily-ignored pamphlets or not provided at all. Hopefully, this will make us make smarter choices at fast food chains, coffee shops, restaurants, and other venues where the food typically doesn’t come in packages with nutrition labels. This isn’t universal, however, so we still have to play a guessing game now and again with our meals and snacks. Or maybe some people just don’t want to know; ignorance is bliss, and all that.
The healthy choice initiative is part of an increased effort to get us to eat close to the USDA’s recommended calorie intake for the average person, about 2,000 calories. This calorie amount is the best amount for most people, but not all, as your body can require more or less depending on your height, activity level, and other factors. So, for the average person, what would their recommended daily intake look like if it were represented in everyday foods?
Below are images of what 2,000 calories of common drink and food items actually looks like. Which would you choose?
5.7 bagels, about 350 calories each
FYI: Store-bought bagels are often on the lower side of calorie counts, but they’re still heavier than a typical slice of bread. Get your bagels from a bakery or cafe, where they’re usually larger and denser, and you’re likely eating a lot more for something you might’ve considered a snack or light lunch.
FYI: Pre-made salads give the illusion of being healthier alternatives, but are typically loaded with dressings and high-sodium, high-calorie ingredients that take away the point of having a salad. This one from Wendy’s is more than a third of a typical recommended calorie intake for a day! Skip the pre-made and go for the homemade, you can choose better quality ingredients and tweak the calorie count to fit your daily meals.
20 medium sized apples, 100 calories each
FYI: The average apple is around 80-100 calories each and has lots of fiber, making it a good choice for a snack or addition to a meal. You’d have to eat a lot of these to get up to 2,000 calories in a day!
2.3 McDonald’s Large Chocolate Shakes, 560 calories each
FYI: No surprise to anyone, I’m sure. However, McDonald’s classic “triple thick” shakes, which these McCafe ones replaced, were a lot more calorie-wise. So, at least you could try to justify one of these with that fact.
12 non-light beers, about 156 calories each
(Source: Fermentedly Challenged)
FYI: One or two beers won’t tip the scales too drastically, but if you’re pounding them back every weekend, you’re looking at a good chunk of calories that aren’t even food.
4 Jamba Juice Large Razzmatazz Smoothies, 500 calories each
FYI: Most of Jamba Juice’s drinks are just large amounts of sugar and calories marketed as super healthy. It only takes four of an average Jamba Juice smoothie to reach your daily calorie recommendation.
3.33 1 cup servings of granola, around 600 calories each
FYI: Another food that most people think is a healthy alternative but actually isn’t is granola, or at least the store-bought kind. It often has additives and fillers, and few people stick to the typical 1/4 cup serving size. Granola can totally be healthy or even low-calorie if you make your own.
5.4 Starbucks Grande Espresso Frappucinos, 370 calories each
FYI: Thought Starbucks is now providing calorie counts on its in-store menus, some people may choose to look the other way rather than find out how much their daily drink is adding. If you’re trying to cut back on a high daily intake, consider this first.
333 stalks of celery, 6 calories each
FYI: While celery is super low in calories, it’s largely made of water and doesn’t have all the vitamins you need. Make sure you’re eating plenty of other veggie varieties.
BY JANE SCEARCE