Are You Overeating Healthy Food?

Meet Marissa and Her Dietitian

Marissa doesn’t know it yet but overeating healthy food is about to become a problem for her. She has decided to eat healthier after finding out that her cholesterol and blood pressure are elevated. She is also hoping to lose a few pounds on her new eating plan. Marissa is 5’7″ tall and weighs 155 pounds. Her dietitian advises that she:

  • consume 1,800 calories max each day
  • limit her sodium to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day
  • eat no more than 60 grams (g) of total fat and no more than 20 g of saturated fat daily

These goals will allow her to maintain her weight; she needs to eat closer to 1,500 calories a day to lose weight! 

Marissa’s First Day on Her New Diet

For breakfast, Marissa has a hard granola bar and a fruit smoothie. As a snack, she grabs a handful of raisins. She has a leafy green salad with one-half of a can of chickpeas, an avocado, and a ½ cup of canned tuna at lunch, with one tablespoon (Tbsp) of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over her salad. When she gets home from work, she has a glass of red wine, a handful of almonds, and 2 Tbsp of reduced-fat ranch dressing with baby carrots.

Marissa has eaten 1,448 calories, 82 g of total fat, 16 g of saturated fat, and 919 mg of sodium so far. She has not eaten dinner yet but she feels good because she chose healthy foods all day, so she decides to treat herself to a sandwich for dinner. She selects the veggie sandwich on tomato basil bread. Her choice adds another 590 calories, 13 g of total fat, 4 g of saturated fat, and 1400 mg of sodium to her day.

The Results: Overeating Healthy Food

Marissa has consumed 2,038 calories (goal was 1,800 to maintain her weight and 1,500 to lose weight), 95 g of total fat (goal was 60 grams), 20 g of saturated fat (the limit was 20 grams), and 2,319 mg of sodium (goal was 1,500 mg) today.

Those Damn Portion Sizes

Healthy FoodCaloriesCarbohydrateSodiumActivity to Burn Off Based on a female who is 5’7” and weighs 145 pounds
1 avocado3211714Swimming for 27 minutes
Clif Crunchy Peanut Butter Organic Energy Bar25041240Jogging for 29 minutes
4 oz cooked Atlantic salmon233069Cycling for 36 minutes
2 ounces of cheddar cheese2251348Walking for 63 minutes
9 oz steel-cut oats22042190Swimming for 18 minutes
1 cup of cooked long-grain brown rice2164510Jogging for 25 minutes
1 cup of Raisin Bran cereal19046342Cycling for 29 minutes
30 whole “mixed” nuts1705110Walking for 47 minutes
6 oz container of fruit flavored whole milk yogurt1602195Swimming for 13 minutes
1 Tablespoon of olive oil11900Jogging for 14 minutes
1 medium sweet potato1002340Cycling for 15 minutes
¼ cup hummus938212Walking for 26 minutes

Overeating Healthy Food In Summary

Many people fall into the trap of believing that nutrient-dense foods are lower in calories than they are. As a registered dietitian with decades of experience, even I have been shocked to discover what a measly salad adds up to once I add the calories in individual components together. If you are trying to lose weight, limit your sodium, or reach another health goal, nothing takes the place of scrutiny. As dull and overwhelming as it seems, you have to read every Nutrition Facts label and every ingredient list until you get the hang of your new diet.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for clearing many things up 🙂

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