The Calorie Wallet
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
One thing the shaky economy has taught us is how to be a little more careful with our money. So here’s a thought – why not handle your daily calorie allowance the same way you’d handle your money?
Imagine that you carry with you a calorie wallet – one that holds all the calories you should spend in a day. How you spend them is up to you. The food choices you make every day and the way you spend your calories, is really no different from how you decide to spend your money. Most people do their best to take care of the necessities first, and maybe use what’s left over for something special. And when we do part with our money, we’re usually looking to get the best value for our dollar, too.
It’s the same thing with those calories in your wallet. You want to spend them wisely to get the best nutritional value. And, just as you might splurge on a really expensive pair of shoes, you could spend your calorie bucks on something you want but don’t really need. But if you want to keep your weight in check, you’ll need to make up for it somehow. Just like it might make sense to save up for those great shoes, you could hold back a few calories in your wallet every day, so you can spend a little extra on the weekend. It is kind of like a savings account.
One thing your calorie wallet doesn’t have is a credit card. If you spend more than you have, you’ll pay for it another way; with some extra padding around your middle.
Some people’s calorie wallets are a little thicker than others. Everyone has a daily calorie budget, which is the number of calories they should eat every day to keep their weight in check. In general, a woman might have about 1600 calories in her wallet to spend every day. The average guy might have about 2000.
So here’s the beauty of the wallet- a gal who starts her day with a muffin and a coffee drink could spend nearly half her calories on breakfast alone. But if she starts thinking of her calories as cash, she may budget them better next time. Maybe she will choose a protein shake with fruit instead, which could save her over 500 calories to spend later in the day.
Stay tuned for more on the calorie wallet – in another episode we’ll do a little comparison shopping, and I’ll show you how to get the best nutritional value at breakfast with your calorie bucks.