I found when I got serious about my weight loss, an indispensable tool for me were my measuring cups. I had never measured anything. I just put it in a bowl or on a plate or straight in my mouth.When I started reading labels and got familiar with the term “serving size”, I was shocked at how much I was overeating certain foods, even the healthy ones. Here is a secret you may not know – you can get fat on too much of ANY food health or not.
I looked at the label on certain cereals I was eating. It said there was 130 calories in a serving. Not bad I thought until I realized what a serving size was. One cereal (no names mentioned) said that their serving size that I got for those 130 calories was 1/3 of a cup. Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen a 1/3 of a cup of cereal in a bowl – even a small bowl? It looks pretty sad.
This is why when choosing foods like cereal, you need to look at what it says a serving is, and then measure it. There are a lot of cereals that have a full cup or cup and a half as a serving with still around 150 to 200 calories. For example? 1 cup of Cheerios is 110 calories, Bran Flakes 150 calories for a cup, and even Frosted Mini-wheats are 190 calories per cup. By the way, it does help to put them in a smaller bowl to make it look like more. Oh and measure the milk you put on it too.
When it comes to dinner, do you really know how much you are having or what a serving should be? A serving of rice is 1/2 a cup. When I was diagnosed as a diabetic back in 2005, we had to go to this thing called a Diabetic Information Session. It was 3 days on how to be a diabetic and at the end of it, you go a little piece of paper that said you were an official diabetic.
One of the things they taught us when they talked about foods and portion control was measuring. When the dietitian said a serving of rice was 1/2 cup, one gentleman argued “Oh no, I eat 6 cups of rice a day and I am fine.” I thought, “No you’re not fine dude, you are in a DIABETIC CLINIC!”
She did us a few clues for visually measuring like a serving of meat should be the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. As a magician, that was a measurement I understood.
I have shared a picture here that will give you some better idea of how to measure by hand, but accurate measuring with cups and even measuring spoons is best. I still go back to them after all this time if I feel I am getting a little off track in my food.
There is another tool I use in my food planning and that is a scale. Not the one I stand on, but a food scale. If you are going to invest in one, get one that is accurate, otherwise you are wasting time and money and you will end up sabotaging your own efforts by eating more than you should.
I prefer a digital scale myself but use what ever works. I like the digital scale for things like cheese (one of my favourite snacks) or even for meat. Most dietitians will tell you we eat way too much meat anyway, and that we would be shocked if someone served us what we should eat – around 3 ounces.
I was watching a show on TV whose name escapes me, but it was about a guy travelling around to all these restaurants and taking on their food challenges. You know kind – “If you can eat half a cow in 60 minutes, you don’t pay.” Maybe not in money but I guarantee that if you take up these food challenges you will definitely pay in the long run.
It is shockingly easy how all these extra calories creep into our diet because we really aren’t aware of what we are eating. For example, we just assume the nutritional label on something like a small yogurt or pudding cup is for the whole cup, but on some types, it says the calories are based on 100 mg but the serving size is actually 200 mg. Who eats half a pudding cup or half a yogurt?
A lot of us have been so careless about how much we eat that we need to start using these tools if for no other reason than to educate ourselves on these sizes. I mentioned cereal. What do most of us do? We grab a cereal bowl and just fill it up and then put in as much mils as will fit. That was one of my tricks. I would eat all the cereal and say to my wife “Oh look, I have milk left over” and get a second bowl
Don’t kid yourself. It all adds up and the one who pays for it is NOT just yourself, but all those who care about you and your health. Take the time to read labels and understand what a serving size is, and if you aren’t sure what a cup looks like, or half a cup or whatever, measure and look.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to stick completely to one cup for example. If you are measuring rice, and you know a serving is 1/2 a cup but you are really hungry, have 1 cup but account for those extra calories. Don’t just say I had one serving when in reality you may have had 2 or more.
When you go into a restaurant, remember many are notorious for HUGE portions. Mostly because over the years that is what people have wanted. As I am fond of saying to my family, “It’s OK, the depression is over. It’s ok to leave something on your plate.” I will talk about restaurant tips another time.
Just remember that if you don’t watch your food measurements, you will have other measurements that will get bigger too.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!