When asked to estimate how many calories are in either a given meal or were consumed in a day, most people will underestimate (sometimes by hundreds of calories!).
When asked to estimate how many calories were burned during an exercise session, most people will overestimate.
You see where this is going…
The best way to know how much you’re eating is to measure it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons in their kitchens, but if you happen not to have them, go buy some. They’re cheap.
A kitchen scale is also very useful. You can find them for $10 and up, depending on what you’re looking for. You don’t need one that’s all tricked out. Digital with a zeroing feature is nice because you can put a bowl on it and set it to zero, so it only displays the weight of the contents.
Then start measuring everything that doesn’t come pre-measured. (For example, you would not need to weigh a slice of bread, since the package tells you all of the information you need to know per slice.)
Measure everything. Everything. Everything.
Even if you don’t track calories or write anything down, you will learn a lot about portion sizes. As a general rule, we eat too much. Way too much. Which is part of why most of us are overweight.
If you change nothing about the content of your food but start to be aware of how much you’re eating by measuring it out, you are almost guaranteed to eat less and will either stop gaining weight or start losing weight or both.
(If you don’t want to measure, stick to a variety of veggies and eat up!)
Side note: If you are tracking calories and/or writing things down, please check the label for the number of servings per package. There are many products that are sold in what appear to be single-serving packages that are more than one serving. If you only check the calorie content, you might still be eating more than you thought.
P.S. This includes drinks. And the two pieces of candy you grab from your co-worker’s desk? Those count, too. So does the rest of the cookie that you finished for your kid.