Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Measure, Measure, Measure!

Do you get Hungry Girl’s daily email newsletter? Sometimes she really hits on a subject near and dear to me, and today’s newsletter was a double-header. (Click here to read the full text.)

A reader asked why her Special-K cereal said it had 11 1-cup servings when clearly there were no more than 8 cups per box. HG did some research by buying a box of the cereal and measuring it herself. The weight of the cereal did not match the advertised measured serving amount. In other words, a 31-gram serving was 2/3 cup, not one cup. A full one cup was 46 grams, a much larger portion of cereal.

The reason I bring this up is because measuring was a subject I was going to address this week (honest, I really was!). There are some really vague measures on Weight Watchers and I’m getting annoyed with it. For instance, a “large” banana is 2 Points, a “large” potato is 3 Points, a “small” orange is 0 Points. Well I’ve seen some mighty large “large” bananas and potatoes, and some pretty medium-looking “small” oranges, so I’ve resolved to weigh the part I’m going to eat. Being precise can save me (or afford me) a bunch of calories.

For instance, half a “large” AND half a “medium” sized banana, according to WW, both log in at 1 Point each. But what is medium to me might be small to someone else. So finally, after 3½ years on WW, I finally peeled and weighed a banana. Gee, half of what I call a “medium” banana was only 1.75 ounces and therefore .5 points. Splitting hairs? Maybe. But I only eat 22 points a day so those half points can add up and I don’t want to be ripped off!

There’s much more at stake with starchy veggies like potatoes. A large potato can weigh 12 ounces, which is a whopping 4.5 Points. Carrots aren’t calorie-free, either. One cup is 0 points, but two cups or 9 ounces is 1.5! I can easily eat that many carrots and many times I’ve counted them as “free,” but I’m really staying mindful of portion control these days because the scale was up to 130.something last week. I’m back to the 128.somethings again, but only because I stopped thinking of veggies and fruit as calorie free-for-alls. I may be a vegetarian, but I know a lot of obese vegetarians and I don’t want to go back there again.

As for “false advertising” on boxes and containers, I was a little disappointed in my Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt purchase last week. It said it contained two 1-cup servings. Because I only eat a half cup at a time, I figured I had four servings, right? Wrong. I had 3¼ servings. That last scrape on the bottom constituted only a quarter cup. I was so disappointed. But I now know to use the scale and not a measuring cup for a more accurate portion.

This new rule will hold true for other things, too, like pasta and cheese. I can cram a LOT of pasta into a one-cup measuring cup. Same with cheese. Gotta go with the ounces from now on.

The second part of HG’s double-header this morning was about metabolism and how eating smaller, more frequent meals and making sure to stay hydrated will keep your metabolism boosted throughout the day. It’s a good quick read if you’re looking for tips on staying on top of your game.

Time to go make a salad. I’m putting my food scale on alert. No more collecting dust! It’s going to work as hard as I do to help me stay thin and healthy.

16 comments:

  1. Funny you should mention measuring. Just this morning I was looking at my handy dandy (old) scale thinking that perhaps I should spring for a (hopefully) more accurate one (not that mine is not accurate, I think that it is). I weigh everything and I do it because of just what you wrote about today.

    Because I have kidney stones, a miserable recurring problem, I carry water around with me everywhere (I find that putting just a dab of cranberry juice, the plain unsweetened stuff and a few drops of stevia in the water helps me reach my water quota). Staying hydrated helps with appetite and energy....but I'm sure you already know that!

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  2. Yah, Lynn, I liked the Hungry Girl article, and I agreed with it. I know that when something seems like 'a good deal' I am probably getting more than its points value. And I always think to myself "who are you fooling?' only myself. I am really working on eating a little less. Just what I need to fuel my body, not just for the amusement of eating.

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  3. Please share the what kind and where to find an accurate food scale.

    Totally clueless about weighing my food.

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  4. Michelle, I bought a scale at Walmart. I can't even tell you the brand name. It's electronic, though, and cost me about $13. it seems to work as well as the fancy ones that cost $50. But if my own scale starts going up because I'm unknowingly eating too much, I'm hittin' eBay for a new high-tech scale! LOL

    I suggest you Google food scales and read reviews. That's how i find a lot of stuff.

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  5. Thanks, Lynn! That is exactly what I needed today. The scale was up .5 lb today, and I'm trying to be honest. I'm exercising lots, but haven't been as careful as I could be about the food amounts this past week. Nothing horrible in my eating, just need to be more alert to the portion sizes. I'm trying to remind myself that this is a long term journey, not a quick fix "gotta loose it now or never!". Thanks, as always, for your posts. They make a difference!!

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  6. Thanks! I've only recently really started on this journey. Right now, I need to work on consistency. Consistency in exercising, eating healthy food, and just plain not giving up on losing this weight.

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  7. Hi,
    Just found your site. I think portion control is one of my biggest issues. When you eat such large portions a normal size one seems so teensy.

    PS. You look great!

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  8. Great reminder to remain ever vigilant of our portions. Eyes can get big once we've been maintaining for so long.

    That being said, I don't beat myself up over having more carrots and not counting the points. I figure there are worse food options I could over indulge on.

    I do think a food scale would do me good, though.

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  9. I always use my scale. I bought an electronic one at Walmart. ...It works just fine. I always pay attention to serving sizes. Yes, HG brought up a good point and a point I learned a long time ago. Never trust anything. Use your best judgement. When in doubt, always figure higher points on food. If you don't, you're just cheating yourself. In a past WW meeting, the subject of McDonald's ice cream cone came up and the leader said that she treats herself to a 3 pt. cone every now and then. She also said that sometimes they make it small and she knows it's 3 pts. Sometimes they make it really big and it's no longer a 3 pt. cone. So, she adds up the pts. If you get a huge cone and write it down as 3 pts. .....That's alright. It's just going to be a longer WW journey than if you had been more honest with yourself. :)

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  10. I know it's important to be honest with myself about what I put into my body each day. But I must admit that when I start obsessing about portions to the nth degree, it feels as if I've simply traded one obsession for another. I want food to have a "normal" place in my life, and for my awareness of food and my body to be one part of my consciousness. Too much thought about these things can feel like a lack of health.

    It's not my intention to put down the practices of our terrific host or anyone else here, but this is something I've been giving some thought lately. I want the points system to facilitate a healthy attitude toward eating and not become an end in itself. It is a constant balancing act, as Lynn has said before.

    Overweight is a disease of distortion. At my fattest, I felt like an ugly reflection in a funhouse mirror. I want a normal image of myself--one defined by well-balanced proportions, not just of my body, but of food and of thought.

    ~Shelley

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  11. The day I start obsessing about 1 cup of carrots vs 2 cups of carrots is a sad day for me I think. Portion sizes are absolutely vital but I think it also comes down to good choices and bad choices. I'm not going to be weighing my food for the rest of my life so I need to instill good choices into my day-to-day eating etc. Just my thoughts.

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  12. This is why I love you guys. Your candor, honesty and the way you think things through for the answers that work best for you...you seriously are the best blog readers a girl could ask for :)

    Thank you, too, for reminding me about balance. I need to post that word all over my house.

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  13. My food scale has been my best friend since last November. It never gets put away! =)

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  14. I totally understand where everyone is coming from. Nobody want to obsess over every single thing they eat. BUT...for me, weighing and counting are becoming a habit. I enjoy food weighed or not weighed. I just feel it's essential to weigh and measure when I'm making a conscious effort to lose weight. If I don't do that, I get a little lax. If I want to see results, then I go the extra mile and figure out everything I eat. It's been a good habit for me to start. :)

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  15. I think it is misleading when they portion food like that, I once was not eating enough for my portions and always felt hungry so thought I was doing something wrong. I was so pleased when I found out that it was just portion sizes that I had messed up. On the plus side I did lose weight just felt hungry too much.

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  16. It's funny I read this post last week sometime and it just hit me! :) I was pouring a bowl of cereal and decided to weigh it instead and the weight measure did NOT equal the measuring cup measure. That's just wrong!

    Thanks for the eye opener!

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