Food Scales: Obsessive or Necessary?
In continuation with last week's post on macros, let me begin this post with my thought progression regarding food scales from the very beginning to my current state of mind.
Very beginning (before I owned a food scale and had only seen YouTubers, bikini competitors & instagrammers using them) "That’s obsessive and too time-consuming and I don’t care that much."
Beginning (still before owning one, early parts of lifting/working out, when I was curious about nutrition because I wasn’t seeing results from lifting alone) "Am I obsessive if I buy one? Are my friends/family going to think I’m going too far?"
Middle (right after buying one and beginning to use it: "Must. measure. everything. Every. gram. counts. I will budget extra time into meal prep for this."
Middle phase 2 (after having one for a few months, consistently using it and being super pleased with body/strength changes) "This is manageable. I can do this. Turns out I can have way more cheese than I thought…"
Currently (use a food scale 90% of the time for preference and education purposes) "This is just part of my routine. It’s not time-consuming. It’s a teaching tool. I like this, but I’m not obsessive and can live without it."
As you can see, my opinions on food scales have fluctuated and gone from adamantly opposed to comfortably supportive. Wherever you fall on that scale (pun intended), I hope this post brings you some insight and perspective on this whole “weighing out your food” thing.
Before I get too deep, I just want to stress the overall point here, which is
The main thing using a food scale has done for me is INFORM and EDUCATE me on portion sizes. Like I said in my thought progression, I used to think that working out and running were enough to reach my goals, but they weren’t. I was not seeing the changes in my body that I wanted, and while I was still very happy and motivated, I wasn’t getting stronger, and thus wasn’t really changing my appearance in any way other than losing some extra body fat leftover from college and remnants of wine and cheese overdoses in France.
My goals were (and are) beyond fat loss, though, and that’s where nutrition is going to play a huge role. I didn’t realize this, though, until I started becoming super aware and informed of what I was eating, when I was eating, and how much I was eating.
Even though I still measure my food most of the time becauseI'm still curious and feel like I have a lot to learn, I have come such a long way from being both ignorant and obsessive over using a food scale.
For instance, I feel pretty confident in estimating how much 4 oz of chicken is when I’m out to eat, or how much a serving of ice cream is when I go out with friends. This is important to me, not because I’m obsessive, but because it matters.
Plain and simple.
It’s important to me because no matter how you look at it, what you eat determines how you feel, look, and lift. I can’t make those 3 things not matter, and so I can’t make learning about food not matter to me either.
Alright, so I did get too deep, but whatever.
Maybe I am unnecessarily defensive about food scales for subconscious reasons, but I doubt I am the only girl (or person) who has felt a twinge of shame in using one in front of people. In fact, I rarely use it when people are around because I fear it does come across as obsessive.
But like I said, EDUCATION is the main point for me, and that’s the point I want it to make for you should you decide to buy and use a food scale.
Of course, it’s pretty obvious how to use one. You read the serving size of whatever food you’re eating, measure it out, and there you have it. (If it’s something like a fruit or other food without a nutrition label, you can easily google that information.)
Again, I cannot say it enough, this is to INFORM you of what you’re eating. Did I know before using a food scale how much 28 grams of shredded cheese was? Or how much 85 grams of spinach was? Hell no. But I do now, and I’m pleasantly surprised that I had grossly underestimated how much a serving of cheese was! Yay for more cheese, amirite?!
Here’s a thing I started doing with my food scale that you should try, too:
Put your bowl or plate on the scale set to 0, and spoon on however much of your food you want to eat. Don’t look at the serving size, just use your eyeballs and your stomach (like, the best measuring tools, right?) to determine how much you’re going to have.
Then, look down at the scale. Are you eating 8 oz of chicken? Are you having 20 grams of spinach? 150 grams of strawberries? 100 grams of almonds? 200 grams of ice cream?
The scale doesn’t always have to decide how much you eat, but it can help you see how much you’re eating regularly.
Keep an out for the next post that's going to teach you how to finally get your nutrition totally under control once and for all!