Me, Myself and My Measuring Cups

Ever since my negative comment incident I have been really trying to evaluate my recovery, where I am and where I need to go. I have already mentioned my relationship with exercise and that it obviously needs improvement, but another aspect of my life, that I haven’t really discussed is my reliance on measuring. When I say measuring I mean using food scales, spoons and cups to unhealthily evaluate my intake.

It is no secret that our country has a problem with portion distortion. If you go to any major chain restaurant and order a dish, you will likely be served more than double what is recommended. We often go for the largest quantity possible because it then feels like we are receiving a great value, but this isn’t healthy either.

With obesity and the major plate inflation, it is pretty much-advertised in every weight-loss add or fitness magazine to use measuring utensils in order to gauge the actual amount of food you are putting into your body. I read this and took the advice, but then decided to inappropriately apply it to my diet.

I had always had measuring cups for baking, but never even considered keeping a food scale in my cupboard. Why hadn’t I thought of it earlier! Of course I needed this to keep track of my calories! I have probably been eating 6 ounces of chicken, when really the magazines say I only need four! I need a tool that tells me exactly what I am allowed to have.

So the next day I went to the store and picked up a battery operated food scale. This meant I could even take it with me when we traveled! How exciting!

From that point on I measured everything on that darn scale. Potatoes (when I actually was eating them) meat, APPLES, snack foods that were listed in grams rather than the number of actual pieces…you name it, it went on the food scale.

And then I read about condiments. “Be cautious of condiments!” Apparently they can add up quickly and some I would have never considered to be “highly caloric” were a big no-no in the diet world! My beloved ketchup, that I used to pile on things, I could no longer consume without measuring. Even when I switched to the reduced sugar ketchup, with 5 calories per tablespoon instead of 15, I measured and put it neatly in a side cup so it wouldn’t infiltrate my food if I didn’t need the entire portion.

I became a psycho about precision, and would often overestimate just to ensure that I was calculating correctly, or remaining in the “safe“ calorie zone. The worst I think was when I actually took measuring spoons to restaurants. I may have discussed this before but when you go to a salad bar, and whip out a little plastic spoon to get the fat free balsamic, people might stare at you. Actually, they DO stare at you. I can attest to this because I was the one being stared at like a freak.

When I came home from my first hospitalization my kitchen had pretty much been cleaned out. Anything that could have been used as an instrument of measure was nowhere to be found. The food scale…I am still not sure what Ryan did with it, but my guess would be destruction or a seriously good hiding space. Trust me, I looked hard!

Since my mechanism of sanity was taken away I tried to be sneaky. I purchased a set of cups and spoons to keep in my purse, and started only buying pre-portion meat. I also turned to Tupperware that was made specifically for portion control, and would secretly put aside what I was eating in those little plastic “life-savers,” before we would sit down to dinner.

Honestly, if I could not measure, or somewhat determine the calories in something I refused to eat it. It got to a point where I wouldn’t even eat fruit. FRUIT! An essential part of everyone’s diet that really is not that calorically dense was no longer allowed in my stomach because I could not determine exactly how much I was eating. I turned mostly to packaged products, which are typically laden with an ingredient list that’s six miles long, just because it had a chart on the back that could tell me it was ok.

As measuring was no longer allowed, my safe food list decreased and I filled myself with unhealthy alternatives to whole foods just because they were more precise. Looking back I realize how ridiculous this all sounds. Some of you are probably reading this thinking I am more crazy than ever, but I can guarantee there are some of you that have probably been there, or still are.

Today I still have difficulty when I cant use a measuring spoon to quantify food I eat…nut butters, or any other source of fat are usually the main ones I wont consume without knowing the amount. Ryan cringes every time I open the drawer he knows contains my weakness, because this and exercise are the two habits that I just cannot seem to break.

A few days ago I mentioned that I have a few major goals for the up-coming weeks, and decided that I need to tackle one at a time in the behavioral department. I think this week is the week to cut out measuring. I am not going to throw away my utensils because I enjoy baking and that obviously requires a great amount of precision. Not to mention it is unrealistic to avoid keeping things that are totally normal, and sometimes essential, for people to have. But this week I am going to try not to measure my the nuts I eat as snacks, the yogurt I have with breakfast, or the sunflower butter I put on pretty much everything. I would like to think this will be easy, but I know it wont. I still catch myself measuring silly things like sugar free pancake syrup, or unsweetened almond breeze, simply out of habit, and comfort…but this is no way to live, completely disintegrated my relationship with hunger-fullness signals, and is holding me back from moving forward in recovery.

Breakfast on day one of the goal, complete and no measurements!

Wish me luck!


24 thoughts on “Me, Myself and My Measuring Cups

  1. Not surprisingly, I have measuring issues as well. I freak out about the weight of my food way more than the number on the scale, actually! It’s awesome that you’re working on cutting out this behavior–after all, the whole point of measuring is to make sure you aren’t insanely off-base with portion sizes, and my guess is you have a very good idea of ABOUT how much you’re getting, even without measuring.

    Aaaand, in my awesome way of justifying insanity with insanity: say you end up getting a little too much peanut butter. Two and a half tablespoons, instead of two. Even with a calorically dense food like that, you’d still only be getting 47.5 calories over what you planned, which is .0132 pounds if your intake plan had you at maintenance and you didn’t end up accidentally skimping on anything else. .0132 pounds? That’s less than a quarter of an ounce! You could “gain” that much weight from not clipping your nails. 😀

    (I hope that crazy numbers bit wasn’t triggering or offensive, by the way–but I know that for me, the easiest way to convince myself the world isn’t going to self-destruct if I don’t measure, eat an extra almond, or miss 5 minutes of my workout is by doing the math and PROVING nothing is goign to happen!)

    Best of luck with this, and keep us updated!

    • that was totally not crazy at all! i have to use facts and figures all the time to combat my ed voice! “ok cj it takes 3500 calories OVER what you burn to gain one pound so really those 3408893 pounds you think you gained HAVE to be in your head…” I totally know what you mean girl! you are awesome and keep up the good work in your own recovery!!!

  2. You are very insightful about yourself. It seems as though you know all the answers as to why you do certain things or why you don’t. Be grateful for that because many people are stuck at the “why” part and that prevents them from recovering. 🙂

  3. You must try Nature’s Promise Cashew Butter.

    I am really proud of you.

    Just think of it this way, you are so in tuned to everything being measured and how much is a certain amount of calories, your already a pro. So you don’t need the measuring cups or “training wheels” to serve yourself. You already know what you need and when you should be more generous.

    I have been freeing myself of measuring and over analyzing, and HONESTLY… I feel so much better. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. No lie babe. It takes so much stress away. ❤

      • It is going really well. It is a lot of responsibilty but seeing all of these happy college kids around me makes me less and less concerned about ED. So many of my new girl friend don’t think twice about the stuff I always think about and they are gorgeous and healthy. I miss you so so sos os so much! I am seeing treatment at sheppard pratt once a week so that has been helpful so far. I lost some lbs last week but i got weighed yesterday and maintained from last week! 😉 Can we please meet up sometime?!

      • when we meet up i am so coming to you!! there is awesome shopping and eating down your way, not so much up here!! i am gladto hear you are doing so well! I knew you could!!! take the time to enjoy being a freshman…if i could go back i totally would!

    • I know! and thank you for sympathizing!!! I did one less mile on the treadmill today. Not an amazing accomplishment by any means but its a start! maybe by sunday ill even have a rest day!!! thanks for always being so supportive!

      • Yay to one less mile…..can’t wait for the rest day! I am good at rest days, let me know if I can be of any assistance….love you girl….lots and lots!

  4. I refuse to buy a food scale for this reason. I LOVE to bake and scales are really recommended by a lot of baking blogs/cookbooks but I know if I have a scale in my kitchen, I’ll start measuring everything.

    Especially since I’m really focusing on re-kindling my healthy lifestyle, I know this is not a good time for me to even think about getting a scale. I definitely understand where this is coming from…

    • good for you girl! do not give into those stupid scales. Its a waste of time anyway! not to mention those with an ED have pretty accurate assessments of how much is a portion!!!

  5. Ah good luck honey, i know you can do it! I went through those exact same things and still do to an extent. I still do the measuring thing with anything that contains fat (ie nut butters) and i understand how hard it can be to get away from. I know you’ll be able to do it this week, you are one strong lady! I cant’ wait to hear about how it goes!!

    • those darn nut butters are so good! i am proud to report i went through breakfast without measuring my yogurt, but still measured the gosh darn sunflower butter. snack I am hoping to eliminate the tablespoon and go with a normal scoop and knife spread!

  6. It’s such a hard thing to let go of – I used to be the same way, about weighing my food and weighing myself. It took me a long time to break the cycle and just look at what I see in the mirror and how I feel about that rather than obsess. Now I don’t even think twice about it though, I just eyeball it and move on. Best of luck to you!

  7. reading your blogs i feel like i am reading about my life. I am obsessesd with exercising. I go by how much or if i exercise on a given day on what or how much i can eat. I also have found myself absolutely consumed with measuring everything. and yes like in your post, if i cant measure it i almost cant allow myself to eat it if i dont know the caloric amount. any tips for me? im so tired of all this. Im so close to giving up and going back to treatment so i dont have a choice, but thats no way to live…..

  8. Wow….just found this post and man can I identify. My team made me get rid of my food scale and since then I only eat fruits I can measure and tear things or skimp things that I used to measure (I got to the point I was measuring prepackaged things to, just to ensure me they packaged them right). If you did make it over this hurdle I would love to hear about it….because right now its the one thing I don’t see freedom from,…

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