Last week we talked about the recovery bugaboo – weighing and measuring. Lots of us resist because it is irritating, or embarrassing, or takes too much time, or most importantly – makes us fear deprivation and hunger. That comes from your old diets. This is something new and wonderful!
This week, I want to show you easy ways to weigh and measure, then we can talk about the feelings. I’ll admit, being a dietitian, I was taught to weigh and measure nearly everything, to be sure there would be enough food for the people we were serving, to be sure the recipe turns out correctly, etc.
To weigh and measure your food for your food plan, you need a few tools. The first is your scale. Try a few and find one you like. If not being noticed is important to you, buy a flat scale. In my office we sell one that lets you see the numbers even with a dinner plate on it, and then it folds up to fit in your bag. Be sure the scale has a TARE function. When you tare, the number goes to zero and only what you ADD to the plate or bowl is measured.
Second you need measuring cups, preferably 2 sets, labeled clearly with the size of the cup. Third, please buy two sets of 4-8 plastic containers, all the same size, one set about 2 cups and one about six cups.
And you need a sharp knife. We discussed knives in a blog published in November 2018; you can find it on the website.
I know I have said this before, but you need to plan ahead. When you make a grocery trip, buy the food you need for the whole week and get it washed, prepared and ready to go!
In the grocery, weigh one piece of a fruit on the scale in the produce department. The rest of the fruits in that bin will be very closely the same weight. An unpeeled banana weighs about six ounces; monster bananas can weigh more than 12.
Proteins also lose weight when cooked; 5 oz meat becomes 4 oz; 8 oz fish becomes 6 oz cooked. Don’t shortchange yourself.
Now to begin. If you haven’t weighed and measured your food ever, or for a long time, give yourself a week to practice HOW you can do this in a way that works for you. Then decide that you are going to weigh or measure EVERY FOOD you eat, for three or four weeks, so you can experience what works for you; and your brain’s eye can adjust to the correct serving size for you. Then you can decide, with the help of your sponsor, therapist, dietitian, or other trusted advisers, what you really need to do.
Now, let’s get practical. If mornings are tough for you, hard boil a dozen eggs. They will keep in the refrigerator about 2 weeks. And cottage cheese comes in 4 oz containers! Perfect! If you have one ounce of oatmeal, that is 1/3 cup. Leave this measuring cup in the container; it will be right there when you need it. This also works well for foods you use often, like rice or quinoa. Just choose the measuring cup that gives you the right volume.
If we are carrying a salad with us, and we use dressing in the little cups, place the cup in the middle of the salad, hit TARE, and weigh your salad dressing. If you put nuts or nut butters in anything, put the product on the scale, TARE it, and add or pour the nuts to the right amount. Put on the lids. If the salad dressing lid opens in transit (mine usually does) the dressing spills out on the salad where I wanted it anyway.
Now salad dressings are confusing. On the label, see the serving size? Next to it is the weight of that serving size in grams. Go to Total Fats on the label. You need to adjust your serving size to get your right amount of fat using the Total Fat number.
Make five portions of food one weekend day. Put one portion in each of your matching containers. Since they are all the same, you will know you have the right amount when the weights are the same. Keep them in the fridge and microwave when ready. This works for proteins and starches, even for vegetables, except lettuce; it wilts when mixed with other vegetables and stored. You can pack five lunches in 15-20 minutes, and be ready for a joyful week!
The problem with some foods is that they are not a consistent weight and measure. A cup of fruit weighs about six ounces, a cup of vegetables, though, can weigh anywhere from 1 to 5 ounces – (Lettuce vs carrots, depending how well you pack it). And vegetables gain weight and shrink when they are steamed; set up your portion to take that into account. Weigh your food AFTER cooking, set up your own guidelines and be consistent.
Restaurants can be really hard to navigate. Look at the menu online before you go. If you have questions, call the restaurant between 2 and 4 pm; the manager will be there, but it is their slow time and he/she will be able to answer your questions. Trust me, they know how many ounces of chicken is in that dish – if they don’t control portions, they lose their profit! And they know what has sugar in it and what sauces can be served on the side.
When the server comes to the table and says, “Hello, my name is _____ and I will be your sever tonight.” Look them in the eye and say “Hello, _____. “And each time you speak to him/her, use the name and look the person in the eye. You will be amazed at the difference this makes.
When you order, be specific about what you need. And ask if you may have an extra clean plate when they bring your food. Put that plate on your scale, weigh and measure as you need to: put the protein on the plate, cut off what you don’t need, and put it back in the served plate. TARE. Weigh the starch and put the remainder on the served plate. Same with vegetables. Now when the server comes back to check if everything is ok, you can ask them to wrap the remainders to take home. Slide your scale out from under your plate, put it in your bag, and enjoy your meal.
If people ask why you are doing this, just tell them you have some violent allergies and you need to be very careful about your food. I feel certain that no one at another table will even notice. And be sure to say thank you to your server before you leave! Use their name!
I know this is tough stuff to handle. Be welcome to comment and ask questions that trouble you, and to share this blog with others it may help.
Have a lovely first week of March!
April 5,6,7 two of the best leaders/speakers/therapists – are coming to Long Beach Island with me to talk about codependency. Join Marty Lerner, Vince DePasquale and me at the ocean! Call now to register!
Blessings to you,