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Accidental Overeating is SO Easy

Today I learnt a valuable lesson about overeating. It is definitely a lesson I should NOT have had to learn (as in, I should already know better), but I’m very glad I did.

Edited to add clarification. I dislike counting calories, but I dislike pain a whole lot more. Given my ability to burn calories has been impacted by medical conditions, I, like many other people facing similar challenges, have to police my input given my reduced output. This is not an option unless I want to live on painkillers.

I had been at St. Vincent’s Hospital this morning for part of a pain management assessment. On the way home I stopped at the gym to do some indoor rowing and hit the treadmill, given walking outdoors in Melbourne’s current weather is a little on the risky side.

After burning off calories, I decided I’d buy myself lunch. I walked past Nando’s but decided to try something new. Two doors down was Spudbar with the tag line “a healthy addiction“.

Spudbar provides heaps of vitamins and minerals in our spuds and also through our range of fresh toppings. Top stuff for those wanting to be healthy and look great.


I was a very good girl and checked out the calories per serve (or so I thought). You see, Nando’s actually do provide nutrition per serve. My mind was working along that line so I didn’t correctly interpret the information I was reading – after all, all I wanted was some lunch! It was while entering the nutritional data into My Fitness Pal that the light dawned.

The nutritional information provided was PER 100 GRAMS, not per serve. The serve size was 663 grams. WHOA! All of a sudden my 365 calories per serve had morphed into a whopping 2,420 calories – more than DOUBLE my target total net daily calorie intake (see note 1). That’s 10,125 Kilojoules for those who prefer the Kj scale! Well over the average adult recommendation of 8,700 Kilojoules (depending on individual gender, age, weight, activity levels etc).

The only sensible thing to do was to stop eating! Which I did. Walked to the counter and asked them to put the remainder into a takeaway container for later.

Had I been paying attention to the size of the serving (or to the column headings), I would have done a quick calculation at a minimum of four calories per gram (see note 2) and realised it must have been more than 365 calories (600 * 4 = 2,400) per serve. But when you are busy and have other things on your mind there is a chance your mind doesn’t really absorb everything being presented to it. Also, humans tend to function on the basis of experience. My experience had been receiving nutrition information per serve in such a situation.

When I got home I weighed the container. 426 grams, meaning I ate over 200 grams, ingesting at least 730 calories. For lunch!

My intention is not to question the healthiness or otherwise of the Spudbar offerings. I will say Spudbar food is DELICIOUS so if you can cope with the calories, enjoy their menu! My intention is to highlight how easy overeating is in our western society. We then wonder why our scales don’t like us the next morning. Had I not been entering my meal information into My Fitness Pal I would not have realised I was overeating and would have merrily chewed my way through 2,420 calories thinking it was a mere 365 calories. I was planning on having enough spare calories banked to allow myself some ice cream today. THAT won’t be happening! If I were a male AFL footballer in my twenties 2,420 calories for lunch may not be a problem. As a 61 year-old woman with some physical restrictions for whom maintaining a healthy weight is essentially mandatory for joint protection and pain management: 2,420 calories for lunch is nothing short of a disaster!

Yes, indeed, caveat emptor. It is not the food vendor’s responsibility to ensure I manage my calories in and out. That is my responsibility. My lesson today was to BE MORE CAREFUL.

I feel very foolish, naturally, but I hope by sharing my stupidity I may alert others to the accidental overeating trap. Or is it just my failing?

Note 1: Personally I aim for 1,200 net calories a day, which means if I burn more, I can eat more. Yesterday I earnt 336 extra from swimming, so ate 1,510 calories. 1,200 + 336 = 1,536.

Note 2: 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates, 9 calories per gram for fat, 7 calories per gram for alcohol.


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  1. Johno

    The fact that it is so easy could be part of the reason we have an obesity epidemic in most wealthy countries. I read recently that Italy is the healthiest country and Iceland is the happiest. All aussies needs to do is combine the mediterranean diet with whatever make icelanders so happy and presto, we have a healthy happy population.

  2. Marie

    I thought this would be about overeating – as in, accidentally eating more even when your body feels full.
    That’s different from weighing up calories (and if I had known that’s what this was about, I would have avoided the article because that’s extremely triggering for me. But I figured hey, it’s AIM, they wouldn’t present that kind of lifestyle as the default).
    So seriously, this isn’t a simple article as presented. It’s pretty insensitive and I’d like to register my disappointment.

  3. helvityni

    Check the sugar content of the drinks and food you consume, you’ll be shocked to find how high it is…

    Give up sugar, it has no nutritional value anyhow, and watch your health improve and the kilos to drop off.
    We took the fat out of the food , and then had to make it palatable again , we added sugar.

    People are now addicted to sugar, and the number of obese people is increasing, and of course so is type2 diabetes, heart decease and other health problems.

    Plenty of fruit and vegies, and some seafood and/or meat, indeed a Mediterranean diet, walk and swim, and you’ll find yourself happy and healthy… 🙂

  4. Maeve Carney

    Overeating is shockingly easy. I would really like to see standardised calorie information showing how many calories are in the whole food item, not just per 100 gram or per ‘serve’ as many food items contain more than one ‘serve’. That would make it much easier to figure out how many calories you are eating.

  5. Maeve Carney

    helvityni, I completely agree with you about sugar. Removing added sugar from food would make great inroads into ending the obesity epidemic. My family, including my children, have cut out sugar from their diets and they are so much happier and healthier

  6. Robyn Dunphy

    @Marie – for many of us counting calories, as you refer to it, it is vital to our health. I am sorry if the term is triggering for you, but that doesn’t mean those of us that depend on it to remain as pain free as possible should not be able to share our experiences and forewarn others new to this world of managing chronic conditions. I am very concerned that you dismiss “calorie counting” as in some way invalid and a mere “lifestyle”. Yes, pain management IS my lifestyle and unfortunately the lifestyle of many other people with chronic conditions.

  7. vicki

    Plenty of fruit might not be so healthy – sucrose is as damaging to health as sugar. It has also been pointed out to me that the size of fruit has gradually increased leading to a higher consumption of sucrose. Vegetables, especially green leafy types are great. Raw carrots are good but not so much cooked carrots. Food for thought ☺

  8. Robyn Dunphy

    Maeve and helvityni: I watch sugar like a hawk simply because it is in so many things in such large quantities. We need many things in our diet: we certainly don’t need the amount of sugar “on offer”, there is plenty naturally in fruit, vegetables and dairy products. I find yoghourt one of the worst offenders – often low fat but with enough sugar to sink the proverbial ship. My taste buds can’t handle the natural Greek style, so I have to be careful. Even so, the bottom line remains calories in versus calories out. A gram of sugar provides the same calories as a gram of protein, essentially, without the nutritional benefits. There are other health considerations around sugar as well. I know a co-worker removed sugar from her diet and resolved a skin condition, for example.

    And the IPA wants to reduce/remove nutrition labels on food. Such a valuable contribution to the nation’s health. Not.

    Most (all?) labels on items I buy in the supermarket do have values per serve and per 100 gms (I’m not sure of the statutory requirements) – it is eating out that I find causes the most difficulty. Which is why I choose places that publish nutritional information.

  9. Robyn Dunphy

    Vicki, I think you mean fructose. I’m fructose intolerant – so quite aside from the fact it is sugar, I need to avoid green beans and onions (for example).

    However, let’s be very careful NOT to lump all the weight related issues onto sugar. While sugar might be a contributing factor, if a person ate NO sugar but still ate more calories that they burn, they will still gain weight. Nothing changes that fact, sugar or no sugar.

  10. Michael Taylor

    I’ve been overeating all afternoon. Sadly, it wasn’t an accident. ?

  11. Michael Taylor

    Sugar isn’t good for you but it’s been given a bad name (or should I say badder name?). For many years diabetes was called “sugar diabetes” and it was a misnomer having “sugar” included in the name.

  12. Robyn Dunphy

    Correct, Michael. I don’t eliminate sugar, I certainly watch it though. Given my limited calorie allowance, I need to ensure I get the vital nutrients I need, not have sugar chew up all the bandwidth.

    Hey we all overeat from time to time! I just plan for it. 🙂 I trust you enjoyed!

  13. silkworm

    Overeating is easy if you eat carbs, but is almost impossible if you eat fats. That’s because fats activate leptin, the satiety hormone, and carbs do not.

    Spuds are carbs, and you could easily overindulge… unless you added fat to them, like butter. That would quickly control your appetite.

    That is one of the secrets of paleo or ketogenic dieting. Go ketogenic (high fat, low carb) and you don’t have to count calories.

  14. wam

    diabetes is the inability to control the levels of blood SUGAR, In today’s world sweet is a must for everything we eat. If the ingredient is starch saliva turns it into sugar, if it is proteins the sauce is loaded with sugar. Taste is paramount so any processed food must contain salts and sugars or it wont sell. The dropping of the ‘sugar’ from sugar diabetes may be relevant to type one but type two is absolutely tied to obesity and sugar glucose and fructose – sucrose et al are deadly unless controlled.
    Health is complex and how you metabolism works must be mysterious.
    My darling has been with me for 55 years and, apart from a new hip has never been crook in her life. She has none of the ‘old’ domonishes, read without glasses, normal blood pressure, no diabetes signs. Yet, I have never seen her eat fresh fruit. She does eat hawaiian pizza and baked tomatoes. She has never eaten salad.
    She only eats after dark and only one meal a day.
    Meat well done,
    vegetables boiled tastless, mashed and then fried in butter.
    The mess on her plate is covered with tomato sauce.
    The diet is varied with curries(no rice, no pasta, no eggs) that are too chillied for 99% of the population
    we drive south to adelaide twice a year, she has 1 or 2 meals of king george and a cray tail mornay.
    She only drinks sparkling red, artificial sweetened weak tea and coffee and cold water

  15. townsvilleblog


  16. Johno

    Undereating can be good too. I recently did a seven day water fast. Awesome experience.

  17. vicki

    Robyn-yes I did mean fructose. Thanks.

  18. helvityni

    Johno, I have been on a water fast one night: instead of three small glasses of wine and only one class of water, I had three huge glasses of water, and one wine…

    It’s better than the other way around, but the frequent trips to bathroom during the night disturbs one’s sleep too much… 🙂

  19. win jeavons

    I grow much of my own fruit; in a dry year I get small but sound flavourful apples , pears , etc ; in a very wet year the same trees bore huge fruit . perhaps all those big fruit are mainly water, more than formerly, consequent on irrigation.

  20. Vikingduk

    Can highly recommend a book called Gut, by Giulia Enders, a comprehensive explanation of our innards. Explains the workings and importance of achieving and maintaining good gut health.
    She cites various studies from type two diabetes to severe depression treated by a simple change of diet.

    Excellent book, well written and easily read.

  21. helvityni

    Funnily enough, I saw Giulia’s book only yesterday at Berkelou in Berrima, googled her ( a charming and clever young woman) and read about her book; will get it tomorrow.

    Thanks for recommendation, Vikingduk.

  22. Vikingduk

    Bit late replying, helvityni, a pleasure to be able to recommend this book. We have changed our diet completely by following Giulia’s advice, both of us feel the positive effects and certainly more clear-headed. Certainly the best I have felt for a very long time. We both feel this book provides the basis for a good health way of life.
    At the very least, I think any reader will be able to make an informed decision regarding their diet.

  23. Johno

    There is not enough cooking shows on tele. I rekon you could could do one, ‘ The Vikingduc Diet ‘ It would be a sure winner. You could do the show on a fully rigged longboat. The occasional pillaging will help keep the audiences attention.

  24. Vikingduk

    Great suggestion, Johno, my sister, Valkyrieduk, I think, would be very keen, she does a very professional pillage and plunder, superb with both axe and sword, and generally a sweet little vixen. We just need to figure out how to liberate the intact longboat that resides in a museum in Norway.

    Though we could possibly recreate a pillaged and plundered hovel, complete with cowering peasants. Or, what really stirs the loins, a Catholic Church. Damn Christians, a complete insult to Valhalla.

    And don’t forget potential spin offs — The Art of Pillaging and Plundering — Sharpening for Sword, Axe and Knife — Viking Feast, Do’s and Don’ts.

  25. helvityni

    I bet the Viking diet was much better than ours, no fattening take-out muck and the only sweet things were wild berries, honey…no sugar addiction for them and no obesity… 🙂

    I believe they also drank plenty of butter milk, no wonder the women too were strong enough chop fire wood…

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