Food & Exercise Diaries

If you find yourself mysteriously gaining, or failing to lose…

…you probably aren’t estimating your calories correctly. I know this seems obvious, but the amount of damage that can be caused by one little calorie underestimation is just shocking. I’ve discovered this the hard way.

I think I may have inadvertently cracked the case today on why I had so much trouble losing weight this last year despite my good calorie counts. I was so meticulous with recording everything I put in my face, but it was all thwarted by one little tuber: the sweet potato.

(Or, yam. The whole distinction confuses me despite my frequent attempts to research the matter.)

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Whoever thought a potato could be so cruel?

During the school year, I had a sweet potato about 5 days a week for breakfast. I thought I was being so healthy–just mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of maple syrup and walnuts. I used the Myfitnesspal estimations on how calorific they were, with a “small” one being about 120 calories. I thought the sweet potatoes I had been getting counted as “small” because they were the smallest I’d seen while shopping. Plus, I figured that since they’re vegetables, how much damage could they really do to my waistline? I counted them as 120 calories and went on with my merry, potato-filled days. (Can you tell I’m Irish?)

I finally got a food scale the other day, and I was excited to be able to use it to weigh out exact quantities to make sweet potato bread this morning. I was measuring the potato I had just bought, and was delighted to find it was exactly 300 grams–exactly what the recipe I was using as a base called for.

I was also calculating the calories of the bread, and that’s when I made the horrifying discovery: the 300 gram glob that I had originally classified as a small-medium potato was actually 260 calories.

That’s more than twice as much as I was recording throughout an entire year of potato-eating. That’s 140 extra calories five days a week, or 700 calories a week, all completely unaccounted for.

That was a sneaky .8 of a pound a month. Also known as .1 BMI point a month for my height. Or 10 pounds a year.

All because of a potato.

So, thanks to that slap in the face, I’m giving out this public service announcement: buy a food scale–you won’t regret it!

Except you might feel really silly and/or ashamed about how badly you estimated things beforehand if you’re like me, but it’ll do you so much good over time. I got mine for 10 bucks on amazon, and it’s pocket sized so I can bring it anywhere I need to. All you snackers out there: you need one of these. It’s so hard to know just how much you’re eating!

Here are the demon potatoes that I loved so much:

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The potato behind the bowl was probably about 220 calories. I feel cheated and lied to.
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..aanndd here’s the onion-y, vegan cheesy lunch version. The amount of potato on the plate is about 280 calories, as is the half potato behind it.

I hope this might help anyone else stumped by mysterious pounds!


2 thoughts on “If you find yourself mysteriously gaining, or failing to lose…”

  1. I don’t eat sweet potatoes as often as you did, but I had the same thing happen to me! I’d buy sweet potatoes at the market and count them as ~100 calories (I really don’t want to count too specifically so I just round to the nearest hundred). One day, I got a food scale because ah hell, why not? I started using it for a few days and a sweet potato is closer to 300 than 100! It hasn’t stopped me from liking them, but I’m better at estimating now!


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