I recently read a book by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., “Mindless Eating.” The book opened my culinary eyes to a whole new approach when it comes to food.

Have you ever wondered where those extra 10 pounds a year came from? All you know is you have been eating healthy, making sure to control your portions, and yet the pounds keep adding on. This has happened to me and I have to admit I have been a little perplexed.

You can now have a little insight in where some if not most of those added pounds are coming from, presuming you are making healthful choices. The “Hidden Calorie” can add up to somewhere in the area of 10 to 15 pounds a year in added weight.

So what is a hidden calorie? Hidden calories are those that you do not realize you are eating. Let me break it down and be more specific. Think about what you ate this morning. Now how many calories did you consume? Around 300? Or was it 350? These are the hidden calories that will add inches to your waistline.

As soon as you assume or say “I think” you most likely have eaten more calories than you thought. Hence, your meal you thought was 350 calories was truly 375, a difference of 25 more calories. Now add that up over every meal and in one year those hidden calories have worked their magic on your waistline. This is not my research but research that has been done by Wansink and his team at Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Surprised? So was I.

We all try to do what is right when it comes to our health, and even the healthier foods we consume gives us a false sense of security, and those hidden calories can add up. So who’s to blame, Subway, McDonalds, and Papa John’s Pizza? The answer is you.

As consumers we need to take more responsibility for portion control. It all goes back to reading and understanding food labels. You may be telling yourself that you are following the portion guidelines on the package. Are you really reaching for your scales, measuring cup and spoons and portioning everything? Large companies are basing their bottom lines on the idea that you’re not, and Americans’ waistlines are proof of it.

It’s hard to swallow (no pun intended), but we are to blame for those hidden calories. However, all is not lost. When it comes to calories, it all adds up over time and taking the extra step and following the correct portion sizes will benefit your health and waistline.

Here are a couple of pointers to help with portion control:

• Many companies now have preportioned packs — yes they are a little more expensive, but the measuring is already done.

• If you buy food in bulk, as soon as you get home, divide the food into separate portions in airtight containers or resealable bags.

Cook Smarter…

CHEF DAVE FOUTS is an Edmond resident and a nationally known speaker in the bariatric weight-loss industry. He also is the author of four cookbooks. Share your recipes with Chef Dave and he may feature you in a future column. E-mail him at


good eats


Chef dave’s Hearty Hamburger Soup

10 servings


1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 medium onion, minced

4 medium carrots, minced

3 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1/2 cup barley

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 cups water

3 (10 ounce) cans low sodium beef broth

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon parsley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Ground black pepper, to taste


Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat; crumble in the ground beef.

Cook and stir until the beef is evenly browned and no longer pink.

Drain, and discard any excess fat.

Stir in the onion, carrots, celery and barley.

Pour in diced tomatoes, water, broth and tomato soup.

Season with bay leaf, parsley, garlic, thyme and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cover; simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently.

Remove bay leaf before serving.

Nutrition information: (per serving) 250 calories, 17 g protein, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 45 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 490 mg sodium.

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