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For many people, one of the first steps to taking charge of their health is to get a better understanding of where they’re starting from. One of the most significant ways to get that baseline is to track the food you eat every day for a week or more. And in order to track your food, you need to be able to measure and quantify what you eat.

Most people think this means putting everything you eat on a scale. While that’s is certainly one way to measure your food, it’s certainly not the only way.

The Scale.

Some people find comfort in the scale. No, not the bathroom scale; the kitchen scale. When you weigh your snacks and meals, you know exactly what you’re eating. This can be comforting to someone who likes precise data, and it certainly helps you execute on your plan to change your health. The kitchen scale also lets you measure in grams or ounces which makes it easier to add into your tracker and certainly provides more precise nutrition information.

Of course, weighing all your food can get to be a bit of a hassle, particularly when you eat at restaurants, or at friends’ homes, or when you’re travelling and not able to cook for yourself. So let’s take a look at some of the other ways you can measure your food.

Eyeballing It.

If you have a set of favorite foods that you eat often, then it’s possible to eyeball your serving sizes with just a little bit of practice.

For example, one of my favorite snacks is Epic Pork Rinds. (Yes, it’s true. And if you’ve never had them before, they’re nothing like the scary, nasty pork rinds you’ll find in a gas station or vending machine.) The first few times I ate them, I weighed out a 1 oz serving. Now I can just pour what I know looks like a 1 oz serving into a bowl and be done with it.

You can use your scale to measure out your chosen serving size of any food a few times, then build a mental image of that serving so you can eventually skip the scale altogether.

Using Common Items as Reference Points.

For other items, you can use some common items as reference points. Here are some of the most common references :

  • 2-3 oz of meat (one serving) = A deck of cards, or the size of your palm
  • 1 oz of cheese (one serving) = A pair of dice
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit (one serving) = One egg
  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (one serving) = The size of a closed fist

Portion Control Plates.

I’m no fan of the USDA MyPlate, but the notion of a visual guide to help you track what you eat can be extremely valuable. You can use divided plates such as [ these ], or a portion measurement tool such as [ this ].

The point is to find a system that works for you and to be consistent with it. If you don’t mind using the scale, then great. I love mine and use it often. But if not, there’s still no excuse for not learning more about what you’re eating each day. Start looking at what you’re eating and measuring the quantity. You’ll gain a lot of awareness and the information that you need to help you change your habits, improve your nutrition, and enjoy better health.

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