Recovery

How To Stop Measuring Food

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It wasn’t until I began recovery and following the exchange program that I began to measure all of my food. While it can be very helpful at first to make sure that you are getting your exchanges/calories in, I do not think that it is a healthy habit to become reliant on measuring everything you eat. I have been trying to break this habit and thought that it would be helpful to share some advice that has made this easier for me.

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I estimated, then measured, about a cup of chopped peppers! Have you ever had the baby bell peppers? They’re so adorable!

The most helpful thing I heard from a dietitian is to guess your portion sizes and then measure them to see how accurate you were. For example, if you want to have one cup of berries, grab what you think is one cup, and then measure after you put the food on your plate. If you got a little too much or too little, just make note of it in your head. Then next time you have berries you can remember to either increase or decrease it a bit. You don’t always have to be EXACT.

You can do this with most types of foods (cereals, meats, veggies, etc). I recommend trying to do this method and eventually make it to the point where you don’t feel the need to always go back and remeasure. Maybe check in once a week or so to make sure that you aren’t skimping, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice that your portioning is a lot more accurate that you would expect it to be! This method is a bit harder with things like spreads.

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Unmeasured guacamole-I think this was about 2 tbs!

I have recently stopped measuring PB/cream cheese/other spreads and it feels so freeing. In order to make sure I am getting enough, however, I eyeball about 1/2 a tablespoon onto a knife and then spread the spread, continuing until I get the amount that I want. Every once in a while, I will measure out the spreads just to make sure that I am on the right track. Especially if you are recovering from a restrictive ED, it can be very easy to cut down just a little bit each time. This skimping adds up over time and let’s be real here-the only person you’re cheating is yourself.

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This glass is labelled at 10 oz, so I know to fill it a little below if I want my usual 8 oz!

Another helpful tip for things that are served in cups or bowls is to take notice of about how full your bowl/glass is when you add a cup (or whatever the portion size is) of food/drink to the glass. I know about how full I need to fill each of the glasses in my house in order to get my 8 oz of milk for example.

Also, just a little note, I do not want this post to be taken the wrong way! Obviously if you want to have more than a portion of a food, then go right ahead! I just thought I would share some of my advice to help those of you who, like me, can’t seem to get away from their beloved measuring cups and spoons. Also note that when I say “1 serving” I mean 1 serving for me. Screw those crazy serving sizes that are printed on the food labels! Nobody really just eats 3/4 of a cup of Frosted Flakes!!!

Do you have any advice to stopping obsessive measuring? What are your opinions on measuring food?

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31 thoughts on “How To Stop Measuring Food

  1. They actually did this with us when I was in treatment! Once we got to a certain point we would put it on our plate and then into a measuring cup! It was so helpful…I can’t believe I forgot about doing this! Thanks for sharing! My measuring cups will have to go eventually!

    🙂

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  2. so sad that for the longest time i literally ate 2/3 cup of cereal with 1/2 cup of skim every single morning, because i had convinced myself that ‘1 serving’ meant ‘one must only have one’. Truth is that ‘serving’ does not necessarily mean that is all you should have-it is merely the increment they use to tally up the numbers, and it is roughly one exchange. too bad they don’t just call the measurement a “unit” or something less loaded. anyway, this is the same advice my RD gave me- and I am so glad you clarified that this is meant merely to ensure you get enough, and not to limit yourself.

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  3. I measure my food to a certain extent to make sure I am getting enough cals in. I don’t use scales or measuring cups though, more guesstimating. I don’t worry about not measuring either – say, if we went out for dinner I wouldn’t be worrying about how many cups of broccoli they served etc. Measuring becomes a problem when it gets dogmatic or repetitive, if you are having the same amount of the same food every day, for instance 🙂

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    1. That is great! I still do count/guess my calories as well. I hope that one day I will be able to stop this, but for now I need to know that I am on track. Yes, measuring is totally fine for most people!

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  4. I completely agree with you about measuring food. At one point I became obsessive over measuring and it became a huge problem. I like the idea of eyeballing your portions. I did that when I was away in treatment and found it really helpful. Thanks so much for sharing!! xx

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely. To be honest measuring/weighing out foods was never really an issue for me. I always tended to stick to things I knew the exact calorie count off and that were in idividual portions. Since my last IP stay,I do still ROUGHLY add up calories but more so that I make sure I am getting ENOUGH calories IN rather than it being a restictive thing 😉 Keep going girl,you are awesome xxx

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    1. No problem Aoifs! I am glad to hear that this isn’t something that has challenged you very much. It is so weird how there are certain ED-related activities that seem to latch onto different people! I definitely feel like estimating/getting a sense of how much you are eating is important in recovery and it sounds like you are doing it in a manner that is healthy for you (:

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      1. It is definitely weird hehe! I am very thankful for the few ed related activities that I have never struggled with!!!! Each and every one is so addictive and harmful. But yes having a rough idea of how much you are taking in during recovery is definitely important and especially during weight restoration. I no longer write every calorie down and add them up,but I can’t help keeping an eye on average the amount I am consuming but more to make sure I am consuming ENOUGH rather than restriction 😉 WIN 😉 Hope you are doing well chick ❤ xxx

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      2. That is so great! I unfortunately still am in the habit of counting my calories. And while there’s no “specific number” that I beat myself on if I go over, I still feel the need to do it. Slow and steady! I know a lot of girls who do what you are doing and it seems very healthy (: I am doing pretty well and I hope you are too!!!! Actually, I don’t hope you’re well. I hope you’re AMAZING!

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  6. You should feel so proud of how far you have come! I remember when I first stopped measuring things gradually and it was terrifying, but now I measure NOTHING unless it is necessary for how I’m cooking it. It’s so freeing! Keep up the good work! 😊

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    1. It is so terrifying to first begin not to measure food! I am so proud of you for getting to this point! I am sure you feel so much freer and happier. It’s so much more fun to cook if you don’t feel like you have to measure every last morsel of food that goes into your mouth!

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  7. YES! you read my mind about doing a post concerning measuring foods. Before I started TGH of course I was on a very restricted diet that was extremely limited in variety, but I never measured anything other than my breakfast cereal and milk. Now that I’m in the program I find I have to measure everything to please my ED while giving into the exchange system that I’m following. They recommend not to measure but it’s hard for me to get away from this especially in my pro-recovery mind because I know that my ED mind will want to skimp (like you talk about). I’m definitely going to take your advice and try some of these non-measuring techniques. Thanks xoxox

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    1. I hope that these tips work for you! They have worked wonders for me. Yes, it’s so weird. I never measured pre-recovery but ever since I began my exchange program, I felt the need to measure EVERYTHING

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  8. This is great, thank you Em! I definitely relate to this struggle! One step a dietician recommended to me was to use a sharpie and draw a line on a bowl/cup to mark where your necessary serving lands (like your 10 oz glass, really!). I’ve done this for my morning cereal, and despite it still being more rigid/measure-y than I am aiming for, it has been a helpful step in the right direction in allowing me to ditch the measuring cups. Also, with doing it daily, I feel like I’m learning to just eye-ball it and that it is coming more naturally. The line (even in permanent marker) tends to fade on most surfaces and eventually will wash off completely anyways, which actually ends up being a good thing because maybe when it’s gone you will have gotten a better idea of how much your serving looks like and will feel more confident in serving yourself while no longer having the indicating line, or measuring in any way! 🙂

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    1. That is an amazing tip Cassie! Like most of the tips I gave, it’s not cutting the behavior “cold turkey”, but it’s still a huge step in the right direction! I find it a lot better to slowly back out of these ED behaviors rather than just immediately trying to stop them. Thanks for sharing!!!!

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  9. I’m currently working on this too! I’ve stopped measuring out my spreads (jk we all know for me it’s not “spreads” it’s peanut butter xD), as well as my yogurt and fruits/veggies. Thankfully I never got super obsessed with it, now I occasionally weigh my pb to make sure I’m not skimping. (Just did this the other day, realized I was on average giving my self 10-12g of pb instead of 16! Easy to fix and more pb for me! The only things I still measure are recipes, oats (as I grew up doing this, it’s non ed.), and occasionally other things.

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    1. Haha yes I wrote spreads but really… it’s just a code word for pb! I am so proud of you for making this step! Yes, more pb for you (: I agree, measuring isn’t always an ed behavior! Especially for things like oats, you gotta get the ratio just right. Thanks for reading!

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  10. I got sick with anorexia when I was 12 years old. I’m 25 now and still recovering. Measuring is something that I just can’t seem to let go of. I measure some things, but not others. I even measure the same food for some meals, but not at a different meal on the same day. I’ve tried the guess and check – I just don’t trust myself. If I get it wrong I get upset and it makes me not trust my judgement even more. All the bowls, glasses, and plates are different sizes too, which makes me confused as well because I have no reference point. I’m at a loss.

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