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Do You Know How Much You Really Eat?

Do You Know How Much You Really Eat?

When Arnold Schwarzenegger confronts his altered memories in the 1990 movie Total Recall, what he thinks about his wife, his job, and even his own name, is wildly off-base. But sadly, you may be doing suffer from something similar too, at least when it comes to recalling your daily events, including how much you think you eat. Self-reported dietary info turns out to be slipshod–particularly if you’re overweight, as 70% of North American adults are.

According to researchers who looked at data in the National Health and Nutrition Survey, the dietary habits reported by 67.3% of women and 58.7% of men were just “not physiologically plausible.” So if you’re struggling to achieve a healthy weight, it might be because you don’t have a realistic idea about how much you eat. These simple recall tools may help:

Keep a food diary. iPhone and Android-based phones have apps to record food intake and give you your total calories eaten.  

Next, figure out how many calories per day will maintain your current weight. Here’s this handy guide: If you’re overweight and sedentary, multiply your weight by 11; overweight but get 30-60 minutes of exercise three or more times a week; multiply your weight by 14; overweight but get 60 or more minutes of exercise at least four+ days a week, multiply your weight by 16. Then, to lose 1 pound a week, make your daily intake 500 calories less than that number. Now you’ll have total recall of your diet–and a younger RealAge.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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