Over the past month I discovered that I’m guilty of, daily, calorically nickle and diming my way into too much food. I discovered that eating a little bit more than I think I am, having fallen into a practice in which I no longer consciously think about the things I put into my body, was adding up. I couldn’t figure out why, despite the workouts and the quote-unquote healthier eating, my weight hovered in roughly the same place.
You see, I was blissfully unaware. Oh, I’d heard. I knew. I’m not stupid. And people talked about it, having come to the same awakening way before me. Eric, though, would be in the kitchen making his meal and say, “No, really, that’s a cup!” Despite the wee voice in the back of his mind that asked, “Really? In what world?” he no longer heard it.
Or (switching back to first person here) my own inner monologue that exclaims, confidently, “There’s no difference between this heaping tablespoon and a regular tablespoon.”
Or worse, the habits I fell into that simply excluded an audience with food-measurement rationality. I ignored portion size. I shook the cereal box until it looked like a serving, my serving.
That right there? See that? It’s eight ounces of juice. See that? I’m sure that’s what the label of the chip bag, the pasta box, the can of soup, the package of mixed nuts says is one serving. I don’t need to look. I’ve done this before. I got it right back then, so I’m right now, even though these are different insert food type and food brand here, I’ve done this, I’m an adult, I can handle it. It’ll be OK.
But no. That stuff adds up.
The snack that’s only a few hundred calories, the snack that I don’t need and I’m not even sure I want but grab anyway because I’m headed past the kitchen on my way back from the bathroom after seeing a commercial for a fast food chain in which the crispy flaky deep-fried crust thickly coating a succulent breast of white meat just bursts into rarified advertising air in hundreds of dazzling buttery-colored bits of goodness? (Yes, the adjectives and adverbs, dear readers, are necessary.) Well, the somewhat healthy, light, overprocessed food I pop in the microwave to placate my baser self after seeing the commercial doesn’t measure up. Nevertheless, I would eat it, convinced that in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter.
It did. It does. By not taking into account the amount of calories, and the amount of carbohydrates I put into my body, I’d not only not been unable to take off the weight I wanted to, but my blood glucose readings were suffering as well. It’s not possible, at least not for me, to delude myself on the serving size for dietary, weight-loss purposes yet continue to manage my diabetes as well as I’d like.
Taking stock of my daily calories using some simple tools available online, however, has shown me the error in my ways. (Do a Google search and you’ll find any number of them. I’ve been using the one at Livestrong.org.)
I’m happy to say that for the past month or so I’ve been back on track and keeping track of portion size, calories, carbs. I’m weighing myself at the gym (same scale, same time of day). I’ve lost maybe four or five pounds total, which is a healthy pace for losing (a pound a week, at most, until I shed maybe ten, or maybe fifteen, or maybe…who knows. If it takes six months, that’s OK). I’m not obsessed. This isn’t a newfangled diet. I’m not removing certain foods from my life. I’m not suffering.
It’s about portion. About being aware. About taking responsibility for what passes into my stomach, for better or worse.