Guessing how many calories we ate in a meal is a dangerous game. Most of us terribly underestimate how much we eat –usually by up to 50%.
Think your sandwich and chips were about 400 calories? 750 is probably closer to the truth. In fact, we’ve shown that the bigger and bigger the meal, the less accurate we are in guessing how much we ate.
There are two easy solutions. One is to take our best calorie guess –and then double it. We’ll be a lot more accurate than if we stick with our first estimate.
The second solution is to separately estimate the number of calories in each item we eat –the sandwich, the chips, the soft drink –and then add them up. We’re a lot more accurate when we estimate small amounts of food than entire meals.
Source: Pierre Chandon and Brian Wansink (2006) Journal of Marketing Research
For 30 years my Lab and I have focused on discovering secret answers to help people live better lives. Some of these relate to health and happiness (and often to food). Please share whatever you find useful.
This video of one of my post-docs gives a flavor of one type of research that we've done: