Imagine going to a clothing store picking out clothes that you liked never looking at sizes, or cost. You decide that although it seems like you may be overdoing it, everything looks good so you decide to buy all the items because honestly you deserve it, right? The woman at the register scans all your items but doesn’t mention the total cost and you don’t look because you are sure it is just fine. You swipe your card and head out the door.
After arriving home you open up your bags and begin trying things on, only to find that most items don’t fit or even look good! You are puzzled, you thought you had a good eye for guessing sizes, how could this have happened? The following day you go to your bank and find that you are overdrawn, and in fact are very far in debt because this shopping pattern has been going on for some time. Although it seemed a little indulgent, you just can’t believe that you could be that off and you begin to get emotional. Your emotions are high and you begin to say mean things to yourself; “how could I be so ignorant” then wish you could take everything back. The damage is done, and now you have to figure out how you are going to get yourself out of this mess. Looking at these bags just makes you sick to your stomach but instead of taking everything back (the stores are probably not going to take it back anyway) you decide to keep what fits, and hide everything else in the closet.
Now, imagine you are going throughout a year (or more) eating everything that looks good without measuring or finding out what the calories per serving are. You don’t want to be one of those fanatics and try and calculate everything that you eat, that just seems crazy and so time consuming! Holidays come and go, kids have soccer parties and school meetings with treats. Of coarse there is the girls night out once a month too, which usually includes appetizers, drinks, dinner and a shared desserts to make sure you are smart about keeping your carbs in check. Measuring food at home isn’t necessary because you are so good at eyeing it and are sure that you know what portions are really about. In fact, mean you have read at least a dozen books on the subject matter of diet and nutrition!
One morning you decide to hop on the scale only to find you have gained 8 pounds! How can this be? It must be because I just turned 40 you say, or maybe water retention, a hormone imbalance, or possibly my thyroid? You say a few mean things to yourself like “it sucks getting old or what a fatty I have become” and push the scale back behind the toilet. You go to your closet and find the section with the clothes that fit a little more comfortably, the ones you have been wearing are a little tight because you are sure that they have shrunk in the dryer. You are frustrated by your weight gain and really can’t figure it out. You decide that calling your doctor is first on the list, followed by a lunch date with your friend from college whom you haven’t seen for a few weeks. It is tradition to go to this little Italian
Restaurant with her and you are looking forward to the visit. This bad news has really put you in a bad place so you are giving yourself permission to have some wine at lunch, even though it is your rule never to drink during lunch dates, but hey anyone who got news like this would do the same. If wine and bread can’t comfort me in a time like this, then the raviolis and my college friend’s good listening ear surely will, you think to yourself. You can’t wait to tell her about your newfound thyroid problem and wonder if she knows how these things are dealt with.
Both of these scenarios are in your control, both of these behaviors can be greatly avoided by being present, having self-control, and working on improving your behaviors. Let’s focus on why it is important to measure and calculate your food.
Measuring food gives you an honest look at what you consume. Guessing how much food weighs, or is measured will not serve you well in understanding your portion size. We all would like to believe that we know our portions by eyeing our food but let’s be honest here, we don’t. Would you go to a clothing store and go around picking out clothes without paying attention to the size or how much it cost? You should not be doing this with your food. Seeing your food patterns is key to changing your behaviors.
It is especially important to track what you eat during stress, weekends, holidays, and travel because this may be very different than your weekday eating. These occasions could be the most problematic and causing the most damage to your weight loss goals or improving your health. Although you may at first think that holidays, stress or travel only come every now let’s look at how many holidays are in a year…New Years, Valentines Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/other winter holidays, and then of coarse there are family and friend birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, baby showers ect. You can count on at least one holiday a month, but probably realistically many more than that. This does not include travel, stress, emotional eating, or if you’re a woman PMS. Excess calories can quickly adds up if you are not tracking them or being strategic about your food planning. It is not about depriving yourself, it is about getting out of denial and begin taking control of your food, your health and tracking what your behaviors are so you can get rid of the behaviors that you don’t want but have somehow become bad habits.
The first step to taking a good look at your eating patterns is by weighing and measuring your food. There are plenty of websites that help you find the calories and other helpful information about the food you eat, I have a few links listed on this site. Check them out, and dedicate yourself to weighing and measuring your food today for at least two full weeks, including weekends, and the “bad” days too.