Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food Scales

Out there in the food/diet blog world, there seems to be controvery surrounding the use of food scales.

Some people argue that they turn people into calorie-obsessed monsters who can't possibly live a balanced life if they're weighing their food all the time, for crying out loud. It's only a few extra calories - give yourself a break!

Other people say hey, screw measuring cups and eyeballing; they're not always accurate. And yeah, calories do make a difference whether you like it or not, and there are a lot of calorie-dense foods that are easy to overdo (think nuts, cheese, nut butters, avocado).

Ever see this video?

I have to just say, I'm with the group that says screw the measuring cups. Because you know, extra calories can make a difference if you're working towards a goal. An extra 300 calories (which is VERY easy to hit) every day for two weeks leads to over a pound in weight gain. I'm too lazy to do the exact math, but that's over 26 pounds gained in a year. And when you're trying to LOSE, doesn't this seem to be a bit silly?

I recently bought the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale. The first thing I did was measure a serving of baby carrots. Not exactly the most calorie-dense food, and a few extra probably really wouldn't make a difference, but I was packing them for my lunch so I figured, What the hell. According to the package, 14 carrots is 35 calories.

Wrong. Because when they're weighed out on the scale (in grams), 10 carrots is 35 calories. I didn't even look to see how much my measured tablespoon of peanut butter was; I just went to the food scale right away for it when I had it with my oatmeal tonight. I don't know that I'll ever use a measuring cup/spoon again, to be quite honest. And let's not forget...working towards a weight loss/gain goal should be something temporary. Once you're in maintenance, a food scale shouldn't be necessary anymore unless there are some other factors coming in to play.

I can certainly understand both sides of the debate, however, some people really love to make sweeping generalizations. Just because someone doesn't use a food scale for fear of relapsing into disordered eating, or for any other reason that they have, doesn't make them irresponsible dieters who will NEVER lose weight because they just aren't keeping track, damn it! Similarly, those of us who do use them aren't always crazed calorie-counters, calculating the calories in every molecule of scented air we breathe in and maniacally measuring every morsel of food in our kitchen like a chemist measuring chemicals in a lab. We all do what works for us, and unless we're engaging in dangerous food habits or destructive patterns, each of us is probably the best judge of what our own bodies (and minds!) need.

Just some food for thought on this snowy Thursday. ;)

**I use the term "dieters" for lack of a better word. It's not my favorite term, because I feel like it trivializes what should be a lifestyle change...but it's easier to use. At least for me. ;)

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