Of all the changes I made, this is the one I was most resistant to. Even when I was dieting I avoided any diet or weight loss advice that involved measuring food or even portion sizes. As it turns out this habit is probably the most valuable. Like all the other changes I made I had to look at this practice in a new way. Rather than see it as punishing and restrictive I view it now as a source of peace among other benefits which I have begun to outline below.
1. Consistency is good for nutrition and metabolism
One of the major changes around my eating routine is measuring everything I eat. I am fairly certain that consistency in terms of intake played a huge role in both my weight loss, the successful maintenance of the weight, and feeling good all the time.
I eat three regular meals, breakfast is nearly the same every day, and my mid-day and evening meal ingredients vary only a little. What doesn’t vary at all is the amounts I eat. By weight and measuring I eat exactly the same amount every day of raw vegetables, raw fruit, a protein-dense food, a complex carbohydrate, oil, and a cooked vegetable. Sure, lunch one day may be pinto beans and black beans the next, but the amount never changes.
The goal isn’t the same number of calories every meal or even every day. It isn’t keeping track of protein, fat, and carbohydrate grams either. My goal is avoiding huge fluctuations and getting plenty of the nutrients I need over time.
If I tried to fit some combination of the exact number of grams and calories together every meal I could spend hours mixing and matching foods and amounts. Instead I select individual foods for their appeal and nutritional value. In any week I’ve taken the right amount of calories and nutrients in for that week and my body loves me for it.
At first blush, weighing and measuring appears to be a huge burden. The benefits have outweighed the cost in time and effort endless times over. Now that I’m used to it the added process really isn’t a burden any more anyway, its like putting the seat belt on when I get in the car or brushing my teeth in the morning. I pay no attention to it, its entirely automatic. It did take a few weeks to get used to, but once I did, it began to come as naturally as any other part of the process.
2. Eliminates doubt and decisions
My goal is no longer losing weight – I don’t really have any to lose. My goal is to never regret stepping on the scale or my food choices. I never want to feel ashamed or remorseful over anything I choose to eat or the amount. Eliminating dilemmas and on the spot decisions is a top priority. I will never need to provided I keep measuring my food. Now that I am in a normal size body measuring has never been more important to me.
When I was heavy I rarely ever thought of eating in quantities or nutrition value unless there was a particular quantity of something left or I was dieting and thinking in calories. I ate to get full. I ate to feel satisfied. When I would order a pizza I would order one not based on how much pizza dough, sauce, meat, and cheese I figured my body could use (or tolerate), I ordered a pizza large enough I could eat from it until I could no longer eat pizza. I made sure never to have too small a pizza.
When I was dieting I was constantly on a quest for finding a “free” food or a diet scheme that allowed me to eat free foods. For example, I would do the no-carb diets because as far as I was concerned if it had no carbs I could eat as much of it as I wanted.
Now that I am careful with my choices and measure what I eat there’s never any doubt or decisions to make. I know the nutrition value of what I’m eating, I know it will not make me gain weight or feel overstuffed, and there are no dilemmas at meal time.
There’s no more worry about my mind playing tricks on me. I also don’t have to make decisions. “Is this enough of that?” or “Is this too much?” Every meal I sit down knowing I will eat enough but not too much, and that it will last me and I’ll feel great until the next meal.
Measuring costs a little in effort and time but pays off in peace of mind and freedom.
3. Makes adjustments possible
The body is a living, growing, adapting, and changing organism. It is intelligent. Just as you could change your MPG rating on a car by improving the engine or making it lighter, as you change your body through making it healthier, losing weight, and changing the things you eat adjustments, one way or the other, may have to be made.
As I was dropping 130 pounds adjustments had to be made to increase the amount I ate to slow the pace down. When my body settled in and stabilized after I reached a more normal size the quantities could be adjusted down. (This was actually a relief – I was eating a LOT of food while losing weight.)
Carefully measuring and weighing everything I eat from my food plan made these adjustments possible. You can’t know how much a fraction or percentage of something is unless you know the actual precise quantity of the “something” in the first place? What is 90% of a “helping?”
For some the experience is opposite of mine. They remain on one quantity until they his their healthy weight and realize if they don’t increase the amount they eat they will become underweight or they are already underweight and need to add. For someone who has finally gained victory over obesity the proposition of adding weight is probably frightening. Measuring eliminates the need to worry. If you can consistently and slowly add to your quanities in increments of five or ten percent the danger of weight gain spiraling out of control is nonexistent.