I remember when I first started losing weight and reading blogs, I wondered if I was the only one counting calories, weighing myself regularly, and measuring portions. So many people seem to be able to lose weight and keep it off simply through intuitive eating and moderation. But for other people – like me – it’s a little more of a struggle, and I thought it might be important to show a different perspective. Here is my approach to one of the more commonly avoided words in dieting – the SCALE…
We have this super cool body fat monitor scale that hangs out right in front of our toilet – pretty hard to miss.
I don’t use it every day or on a regular schedule or anything, but I probably weigh myself a few times a week. I use it as a means to stay on track, not to obsess or freak out. If anything, it is a positive reinforcer for me, that eating well and staying active keeps me balanced.
But let’s get to the good stuff. I didn’t really want to show you pictures of my toilet and talk about pounds. I wanted to talk about the FOOD SCALE! It is one of my best friends in the kitchen, used for every single meal. Measuring cups can be great for things like liquids – but you can fill a measuring cup of say – cereal, raisins, nuts – about a million different ways. If the intended portion size is a loosely packed cup, and you are like me – hell bent on getting as many raisins as possible, so you jam them in there with the force of the hulk – you can end up fitting 2x the portion size into that itty bitty measuring cup. Enter your new best friend – THE GRAM.
Yes folks, we’re talking about old school weights and measures here. Measuring cups are out, GRAMS are in. You’ve probably never noticed it before, but every nutrition label contains the portion size listed in grams. By using a food scale, you can weigh out your ingredients to the nearest gram, and know that you have the intended portion size.
Now – a quick word on calorie counting. Some people swear by it as the only fool-proof way to lose weight. Other people think it is too obsessive. I think you have to find what works for you. When I originally lost my weight, I used the Calorie King program to track my daily calorie intake and get a realistic idea of how much food I needed in a day. It was a major eye opener, and now I understand portion size and nutrients in an entirely different way.
Over the course of a year or so, I found that I knew most of the nutritional information of the foods that I eat regularly, and I stopped using the program quite so much. I don’t really calorie count anymore, but I do a mental tally to make sure I’m eating the right amount, and getting a good balance in. And sometimes when I know I only want maybe 200 calories of rice on my plate, that’s where my food scale enters the picture.
I have been using my food scale for the past two years since I started losing weight, and it has been an invaluable tool. So I was pretty excited when the people at EatSmart emailed to see if I wanted to review their newest line of food scales – yes please!
First up is the EatSmart Nutrition Scale…
Ummmm this scale is completely AWESOME! As described on their website,
The EatSmart Digital Nutrition Scale analyzes the nutritional content of ANY food by portion size. The database stores the nutritional values for approximately 1,000 foods, which have been carefully selected to reflect fresh, whole foods Americans eat. Features:
- Calculate calories, carbs, fiber, sodium, fats, vitamin k and six other nutrients from packaged foods and 999 whole foods
- 44 page guidebook on maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Memory Mode – save up to 99 entries for daily or weekly tracking
- Weighs in grams (to nearest whole gram) and ounces (to nearest .1 ounce)
I pulled out the handy dandy Food Code booklet, and found my product of choice…
I placed my apple down, and entered 002 on the scale in order for it to recognize what I was weighing.
Along the bottom of the screen is a field that shows you the calories, carbs, and fiber of whatever you are weighing. My apple has 51.5 calories!
You can also change the bottom numbe
rs to show protein, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sugar, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calcium, and vitamin k – very cool. This is very useful for easy things like apples that have already been programmed into the scale. I don’t know if I will ever bother to plug my specialty items into the empty codes though. It’s nice though for portioning out dinners, especially for higher calorie items like rice or beans – just to make sure that you’re not taking more than you intended.
The other night we had a Mexican dinner and I made mine into a salad. I only wanted a little bit of rice, so I plugged in the food code number for cooked rice and zeroed out the scale…
Then I added rice until the calories reached 100ish – just a teeny tiny salad portion. Then I continued to add all my veggies and beans, but I knew I hadn’t over-portioned on the rice. I think this scale is an awesome tool for someone who is just starting to lose weight, and wants to track their daily calories closely.
For just portion control though, all you really need is a basic food scale. EatSmart sent me their basic model as well, and apparently it was made just for me…
This much less expensive and easier to use option, is the EatSmart Precision Pro Scale, and is described on their website as…
an economically priced multifunction home scale, perfect for everyday tasks from weighing food or ingredients to calculating postage. Features:
- EatSmart Precision Pro Sensor Technology
- Compact Design and easy two-button operation
- Tare Feature; Subtract the weight of any plate or container
- 4 measurement modes: grams / ounces / kilograms / pounds
Plus it comes in fun colors like RED, which is always a plus. To show you how I use my basic food scale, I grabbed a bag of my favorite Trader Joe’s crackers.
I zeroed out the scale with my bowl on top, and then added crackers until I reached the 30g portion size found on the nutrition facts label.
So instead of mindlessly sticking my hand in the bag, or just eye-balling what seems like a good portion size, I can measure it out and know that I have as little or as much as I intended. Like I said, everyone needs to find the strategy that works best for them.
Speaking of portion size, I read a really great article earlier this week about how misleading and confusing today’s portion sizes and nutrition facts labels can be to the average American consumer. They are pushing new legislation to re-evaluate realistic portion sizes and label products more effectively. If you have a few minutes, it’s definitely worth a read.
And finally – the best part. If you stuck with me through all that, you now get to hear about a GIVEAWAY!! The nice people at EatSmart offered to give one lucky reader their very own Precision Pro Scale!!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, telling me how you feel about portion sizes and portion control in general. Are standard portion sizes too big or small? How do you determine what’s right for you?
You have until Thursday at midnight to enter – winner announced Friday morning! Good luck!