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  • Aliza Beer

What Do 500 Calories Really Look Like?

Sometimes deciding what to eat can be quite tricky when trying to maintain a healthy diet and keeping one’s calorie intake in check. While most people know that eating too many calories causes them to gain some unwelcomed pounds, they do not know how many calories are actually in the foods that they eat on a daily basis. While something may seem like a small quantity of food, it can easily be hiding an excessive amount of calories.

The average person needs around 2000 calories. This may sound like a lot, but unknowingly exceeding this number can be fairly easy. A quarter of this amount is 500 calories, which is a very prevalent number of calories to find in a single food item.

Let’s take a look at some familiar choices. A bagel with 3 tablespoons of cream cheese can easily cost upwards of 455 calories. Add in a cup of chocolate milk or orange juice, the scale just tipped to the 600-calorie mark. By setting the bagel aside and opting for an omelet with two eggs, a little bit of mozzarella cheese, a slice of whole wheat bread, and an apple, all of which add up to around 440 calories, you’ve come away from breakfast feeling full and it’s all still under the 500 calories mark.

What about a hotdog in a bun with some ketchup? Together with a small serving of french-fries that meal weighs in at 500 calories. Compare this to a meal including a regular serving of salmon and a baked sweet potato, which only consists of around 400 calories.

The calories in snacks can also quickly add up. Now that it’s summer, ice cream is usually a go-to choice for a snack. But, just by having a cup of Haagen Dazs chocolate chip cookie dough, one is actually consuming 620 calories! And how often do people limit themselves to only one cup of ice cream? However, on the healthy side, for 500 calories a person can have three cups of popcorn, a cup of berries with a fat-free yogurt, two handfuls of carrots and cucumber sticks with some hummus, and an orange and would still be consuming less calories than the cup of ice cream.

Another important area to probe is the beverage choices one makes throughout the day. A large salted caramel Frappuccino from the local Starbucks is a shocking 570 calories. By drinking a regular peach Snapple or Coke at each meal, one can be adding 460 calories to his daily intake. By choosing water or seltzer a person can save himself from these unnecessary calories. For those who have a hard time giving up the sweet taste, slices of apple, lemon, lime, or fruit of your choice can be added to water or seltzer.

A helpful tip is making sure to consume meals that are nutritious and also keep you full longer. By eating meals with high contents of protein, fiber, and some healthy fats, you can keep your body full for longer and avoid mindless snacking, which just raises your calorie intake. Also, by trying to fill your plate at meals with sides such as veggies as opposed to simple carbs (white rice or potatoes), which add up in calories, you’ll be lowering the calorie count of the entire meal. Lastly, when snacking on foods that contain a nutrition label, focus on the serving size! Often we trick ourselves into thinking that we are having way less calories than we actually are by reading the serving size, which is generally suggesting much fewer than we actually consume.

When trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle it is important to understand the food selections that you make. Consuming the right amount of calories that your body needs through healthful, nutritious choices is the key to success. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to navigate all the different food choices out there. While it may come as a surprise it can take very little to reach 500 calories. Though the number seems quite big, it can be packed into a shockingly small amount. The good news is that by being aware of calorie-dense foods you can ensure that you make healthier decisions throughout your day and can keep your calorie intake in check!

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