Quick! How many almonds in a serving? What’s a serving of peanut butter? How big is a serving of pasta? How much wood could a woodchuck….. oh, wait. Scratch that last one.
23 almonds are in a serving. Two tablespoons make one serving of peanut butter. And 1/2 cup of cooked pasta is all you get in a serving. In those items are 160 calories for almonds, 188 calories for peanut butter and 212 calories in the pasta.
I bring all of this up as a result of a conversation the other day with a friend who said that she really doesn’t eat very much. She’s a little puzzled as to why she weighs what she does. To be honest, I was the same way. I generally ate about 550 calories over the course of my work day. Not bad except that I usually consumed them in the form of a Snickers bar. But, still, it was all I ate all day and the count itself wasn’t that bad. How could I have weighed so much?
Dinnertime, that’s how.
When I started keeping a food diary, I was startled, horrified and embarrassed at how much I ate in a single sitting. My nighttime meals, often the only real one I had on any given day, were ranging up to and sometimes even over 1500 calories in a single sitting. How in the world do you do that, you might ask. Easily, I would answer.
A plate of spaghetti (or about 1.5 cups of noodles) is 636 calories, add another 70 for a cup of canned sauce, another 73 for an ounce of ground beef added to the sauce, another 140 for a single slice of garlic Texas toast (but you’ll probably need another half slice to sop of the rest of the sauce) and you’ve got a meal with 989 calories. For dessert, let’s go with 1 cup of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. That’s another 420. Okay, so that’s only 1409. I exaggerated….a little. I could easily eat 1400 calories. In a single sitting. RIGHT BEFORE BEDTIME. That’s more calories that I now eat in an entire day! Friends, nothing good will come from that.
The tools in my kitchen that get washed the most are my measuring instruments – spoons, cups and scale. There are some foods that I can sort of “eyeball” a single serving of. The problem with eyeballing and ballparking is that my eyeballs and ballparks both get bigger and, before I know it, that half cup of pasta is an overflowing whole cup. I can’t control my calorie, carb, fat or whatever else intake if I don’t know what I’m eating. And, to really know what I’m eating, I have to measure it. In a pinch, I use the palm of my hand to guesstimate a serving size. That works when I’m eating out or am a guest in someone’s home and I want to watch my manners in the hopes of being invited back. I’ve found that if I get too weird or high-maintenance at the dinner table, my phone number gets lost. Quickly.
It’s a nuisance, to be sure; however, it’s absolutely necessary if I am going to really know what I am putting in my body. If I’m not vigilant, I gain weight, lose energy and lose my way. Having traveled this reduction road now more than once, I know how hard it is. With this vigilance, I won’t have to do it again.