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Thursday, April 7, 2011

How To Keep Track Of It All -Diet Diaries, Food Portions and Your Bathroom Scale

There are people who will tell you that weighing yourself everyday is obsessive and unhealthy. I used to feel that way myself. In fact, I once threw my scale away; I had decided that I was comfortable being a size 10/12, that I loved my body and was happy with the way I looked. That was before I developed insulin resistance and all of a sudden my clothes were too tight and I looked frightful in photographs. So I started a low carb diet , bought a new scale and went through the long and tedious process of losing the weight.

While I do think that you can be obsessive about weighing yourself, I also think that it is perfectly OK to weigh yourself once a day, in the morning.  It will give you a sense of how you're doing in ongoing weight loss and will signal if you start losing or gaining at an alarming rate, allowing you to make whatever adjustments are needed. I know that a healthy relationship with your bathroom scale can be a challenge, especially if you have an eating disorder or other major food issues. But if you can find a way to keep it all in balance (and that means not freaking out when you gain a pound), the scale can become, if not your friend then your partner.

There are also people who will tell you that it's obsessive to keep a diet diary. Writing down everything you eat, every day? Sounds like madness! But I must say that, especially for someone who has trouble remembering whether or not she's already taken her meds and supplements, writing it all down helps me keep track of everything.  Each page looks something like this:

                     Protein     Fiber     Calories   Net/Effective Carbs   Fat
Smoothie                      27.5                 5.5                180.75                           2.5                                  5

I also write down all the medications, supplements and oz of water per day.  It's great - I don't have to keep track of everything in my head, I know exactly what I've consumed and chances are, if I don't want to write it down, I shouldn't be eating it. And that's the promise you must make to yourself - you must write everything down, no cheating. Once you start keeping track, you begin to realize that you need to make adjustments here and there.

Another thing to keep an eye on is portion control.  The best way I've found is to weigh your food rather than measuring it out in cups and tablespoons. It's far more accurate, and it gives you a much better idea in terms of what a portion of any given thing actually looks like. Our brains try to fool us when it comes to how much, our eyes tell us lies when we look at a portion of food. "Surely, it must be bigger", our eyes tell us. "You really don't need to measure", says our brain.  Now, there are people who will tell you that weighing your food is another act of unhealthy, compulsive behavior. And they may be right, in some circumstances. Be that as it may, you may want to tell all those people who think you're obsessing about your health to mind their own damn business.

Having said all that, I do realize that all of these practices can become obsessive. Anything can. The trick is not to freak out about weight fluctuations  or to spend all day poring over your diary in angst. There are more than enough things in life to make you crazy - try not to add to them.

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