The 100-Calorie Solution

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on August 20, 2004 · 0 comments

Sitting at your desk reading this, you could be gaining weight.

As Americans get heavier and heavier, researchers are scrambling to understand why people today are gaining weight. A major factor for Americans is the many modern conveniences we use, and love.

Experts estimate that modern life, with its computers, TVs, dishwashers, and escalators, has shaved 111 calories from our daily energy needs. That means if you eat those 111 calories and don’t compensate with exercise, at the end of a year you could gain 10 pounds!

Hard to believe? Researchers tested the theory by studying an Amish farming community, where people get around by foot or horse and buggy, plow their fields without machinery, and use no electricity or modern appliances for household chores. Obesity was almost nonexistent, despite a hearty diet of meat, eggs, bread and pies.

The difference between us and them? They work hard and walk more.

Wash and dry dishes by hand and you use 1.8 calories/minute. Load and unload the dishwasher and you use 1.3 calories/minute. Climb the stairs at work and you burn 4.2 calories/minute.

We don’t need to understand all the complexities of the weight problem before we begin to fix it.

Eating 100 calories less a day or moving 100 calories more each day is something most of us can do. Put the two together and you could lose 10 pounds this year.


Small changes to cut 100 calories:

  • Use mustard, salsa or fat-free mayonnaise in place of regular mayonnaise
  • Eat 1 slice of toast for breakfast instead of 2
  • Order a cup of soup instead of a bowl
  • Eat cereal with skim milk instead of whole
  • Use tuna packed in water rather than oil
  • Swap a diet soda for a regular soda
  • Enjoy a glass of wine instead of a martini
  • Have a chocolate kiss instead of a chocolate bar

Small changes to use up 100 calories:

  • Walk one mile – go window shopping at lunch
  • Go up and down 5 flights of stairs
  • Grocery shop – push, lift, bend – for 30 minutes
  • Dance for 15 minutes
  • Play a game of ping-pong
  • Play pool for 45 minutes
  • Clean the house for an hour
  • Weed the garden for 20 minutes

Change your screensaver to read: Stop surfing! Start Sweating!

For more information on calories look for the all new and revised The Calorie Counter, 3rd Ed., by Annette B. Natow, PhD, RD and Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD.

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