Dietitian Confessions: How to Decrease Your Calories by 500 a Day!


How I ate decreased my Calories by 500 a Day and Still Ate the Same Amount of Food!

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The Confession

I have a gigantic confession to make. This is an embarrassing confession considering, you know, I went to 7 years of school to obtain a bachelors of science and masters in human nutrition. My confession is (drum roll please) I was eating close to 500 calories a day in condiments! My favorites are ranch and any restaurant’s signature sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I knew too many condiments could increase your calorie intake. I’m pretty sure I have included the tip, “limit or avoid condiments” on another post. Hold on let me check…

Yep, I included that particular tip right here aaaand here.

Did I realize what a difference my condiment affections were making in my life? Not even close!

Ranch dressing photo
Photo by soupboy

The Ephiphany

My epiphany came one day after eating at Chick-Fil-A. I was trying to be a “mostly” good little dietitian by mindfully selecting the grilled chicken sandwich and small fries. (I love a little taste of Chick-fil-A waffle fries. Everything in moderation, right?) I even took off one half of the bun because an open face sandwich was plenty of bread to satisfy me. For added measure, I only ate half of my small fries.

I’m thinking I did pretty well until I started adding my food into my Fitbit Charge 2 (Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Plum, Large (US Version) . My calorie intake from actual food was fine. Then I started adding in my beloved “Chick-Fil-A sauce.” One packet of “Chick-Fil-A Sauce” is 140 calories, according to their website. If I had eating just one packet, my calorie range for lunch would have STILL been just fine… But I had (whisper voice here) three. That is 420 calories in condiments!!!

You may have heard people say I like ranch with my food. I am one of those people who likes food with my ranch. Notice the difference?

The Impact of Hidden Calories

When I learned this about myself, I was reminded of a client who drank sweet tea all day long. That client lost substantial weight by only switching from sweet tea to unsweet.

My condiment obsession produces similar math to the sweet tea reduction. To lose a pound, a person needs to decrease their calories by 3500 or burn an excess of 3500 calories. In other words, 3500 calories equals one pound. The best strategy is to increase your calorie burn through exercise AND decrease your calorie intake to equal about a 3500 calorie deficit a week. So to lose one pound a week, a person would need a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day. Ummm… I basically could get that by omitting condiments from my diet! Heck, I could almost hit that deficit by omitting condiments from just one meal a day!

Making the Changes

So what did I learn from this epiphany?

  1. I need to back off of those condiments! But you know we dietitians want you to get more specific with your goals. So I’m going to say, “My goal is to reduce my condiments to one serving per meal.”
  2. Using an easy and accurate calorie tracking method has helped me see my big issues, especially the more hidden calories. I use the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Plum, Large (US Version) to track my calorie intake and calorie burn, but others have found success with apps like Myfitnesspal.

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11 thoughts on “Dietitian Confessions: How to Decrease Your Calories by 500 a Day!”

    1. Hey Brynn, I know right!!! I was so surprised when I calculated those sneaky calories! Now that I dip instead of scoop, I am able to eat only one serving of sauce/dip a meal. I am so glad I took the time to do what I tell my clients to do, which is truthfully record what you are eating.

    1. Thanks Cara, It makes such a big difference! I try to tell my clients that truthfully keeping track of what you are eating can be so eye-opening.

    1. Thanks Stacey! Now that I dip instead of scoop, I am able to easily only eat one serving of sauce a meal!

  1. So many people are unaware of just how many calories condiments can pack onto a meal. In our household it used to be Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce… loaded with HFCS! Always great to set specific attainable goals too!

    1. Absolutely, Catherine! Sweet Baby Ray’s is yet another one that was on my list of overindulgences. Thank you for sharing!

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