To weigh or not to weigh?

In dealing with our obesity crisis, we have accumulated an interesting range of drills and skills to help people try and fix their eating. At the same time we have turned our back on useful techniques

In my experience helping people with their weight, I think the focus should be on restoring normal eating, not on dieting. It’s now a simple fact that dieting gives most people a food disorder later on in life. Check it out here. Re-learning how to eat healthily is a quite relentless task, that is made easier if you have a foundation of healthy eating.

If you don’t have experience weighing and calculating food values I think you will eventually have to go through a process of leaning basic food skills like weighing and calorie counting like the one here.

This advice may seem strange as almost everyone is telling you not to weigh and not measure and certainly not to count calories. I sort of agree and disagree.

Here is my argument. Much of literature that deals with disordered eating is based on the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa. When confronted with a client who is starving themselves to death and who focuses on nothing but their body weight and who knows the calorie value of absolutely every thing and you are desperately trying to get the tormented soul to eat something, you really want to shift their attention away from obsessive calories counting.

Never the less, treatments do actually rely on clients having a rough idea of what normal looks like.

Therapists will tell everyone to eat naturally, or intuitively to nourish your body, and that no food is bad. All of which is totally reasonable . But what if you have never had a proper meal, what if you have no idea of quantity, what if your appetite is so damaged that you don’t get fullness signals.

Understanding, or at the least, being able to apply food mechanics in the real world, must underpin all successful restorative processes especially if you want to include all types of food in your diet.This does not mean however obsessively weighing and measuring everything that passes your lips. It does mean that you need to be able to recognise roughly what an appropriate portion looks like.

Let me reassure you, through bitter experience, eyeballing can be unreliable in the long term. If today you weigh a portion of food, tomorrow you can “eyeball it”, and you can probably eye ball and guess for another 2 weeks, after that your portion guessing become severely unreliable.

My plan is to have 150g of potato with my evening meal. ( I have other stuff too!) Most days I eye ball it . Once a month I drag the scales out and weigh to check my guesses . Today I was 100% wrong. My eyeballing made me put 300g out , thinking it was the right portion size. No wonder my weight management has been a bit flakey of late!

So my recommendation is that once a month weigh the higher calorie dense things like potato, bread, rice pasta and sweets you decide to have, just to make sure you are keeping your sense of proportion! If you weigh everything all the time, I agree, you have a problem!

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