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From The Cooper Institute and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

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Written by February 24, 2012

Ruth Ann Carpenter, MS, RD

Lead Integrator
Health Integration, LLC

healthy foods
weight gain
What does 100 calories look like?

My cousin told me this week that her five-year old son had learned to count to 100 recently. One of the ways he learned what 100 looked like was to put 100 Legos on a board. When he finished he exclaimed, “That’s 100? Wow!”

So I thought it would be fun to see what you would say if I showed you what 100 calories looks like for different foods.  Here goes:

¼ of a large bagel
2 slices American cheese
1 ounce pretzels
¼ cup premium ice cream
¾ can of regular soda
2/3 of single serving bag of potato chips
2/5 of small bag of regular M&Ms
1/32 of an apple pie (or ¼ of a regular slice)
4 ounce glass of wine
1.4 ounces of hard liquor
¾ bottle of beer
2 regular Oreo cookies

2 cups strawberries
4 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped peppers
2 cups diced watermelon
7 cups celery
1 medium apple
4 cups cauliflower
3 cups air-popped popcorn

So, did you exclaim, “That’s 100 calories?!?!” You were probably surprised how little 100 calories is for each of the top list foods and how much 100 calories is for the foods in the bottom list. The top list is of foods that are high in fat, sugar and/or alcohol – and relatively few nutrients. The bottom list shows foods that are high in fiber, water, and nutrients.

Why does 100 calories matter?  Eating just 100 calories more than you burn each day can add up to more than 10 pounds of extra weight in one year.  These lists show that you need to be especially careful to keep your portions in check when eating most snack foods. (Check out our earlier blog posting about the downside to the 100-calorie snack packs.)  But you can eat lots of the good stuff – vegetables and many fruits – for just 100 calories.

Which list will you be eating from more often?

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