In my work I have to be very cognizant of eating disorders. They are not a laughing matter, yet a disproportionate number of dietitians and RDs have struggles with them.
This makes sense as the field tends to attract very type A and driven people, and food is something that we can always control, even when other aspects of our lives fall out of control.
Now I am not an expert in eating disorders, but I am very very good at recognizing positive food behaviors vs. compulsive neurotic merry-go-rounds of food worry.
This is why all of us have to be able to watch our relationship with food and really think – is this feasible long-term? Is this habit or thought process making me healthier?
This is where monitoring comes in and weighing and measuring food is monitoring.
I break what I do in the nutrition realm into three categories:
Quality – Individualized to the client via elimination protocols and testing.
Quantity – Individualized to the client via starting points backed by research, continued results, and carbohydrate sensitivity protocols.
Timing – Individualized via activity, goals, and the state of their HPA axis and GI system.
Now the Ancestral Health movement gets dogged pretty hard in the conventional circles for some folk’s complete disregard for food quantity.
One of the problems I see in the “Paleo” space is sweeping the calorie issue under a rug and then just dismissively saying food quality is the only thing that matters. Right?
Well, calories in vs. calories out is not the end all be all and it is a constantly moving target of fuzzy math, BUT that doesn’t mean that food quantity doesn’t matter.
AKA 5’3” Lisa’s daily food regiment can’t be dates, cricket bars, coconut flour muffins, bullet-proof coffee, and grass-fed ribeyes. Sorry.
So how do we get as much of a handle as possible on food quantity without being OCD?
My favorite saying when it comes to food quantity is, “Don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good.”
There will never ever be perfection on the food quantity side of your life and to chase it is unhealthy. Let go of it. One day you may cook your chicken thighs for 1.06 hours and the next day 38 minutes.
These meats will have different amounts of water and thus different calorie and macronutrient amounts. Thankfully, myfitnespal is not that specific.
Now, what happens if a piece of your rice cake falls on the dirty gym floor or your significant other wants a bite of your wild caught King salmon? Well, we sure as hell can’t freak out because…that does not sound like a healthy relationship towards food or life.
Thus, I ask all my clients to weigh and measure their food for one week. After this they usually have a solid grasp of how much they need to eat.
Then we can use this previous knowledge combined with references like your fist, a deck of cards, a golf ball – you know all that annoying stuff you have probably heard me say.
But, what if you want easier than that? What if revolving your life around decks of chicken breasts, fists of sweet potatoes, and golf balls of liquid coconut oil seems ridiculous?
Enter – Food Prep.
Now here is where we further individualize. You can cook all your food, weigh and measure it, and put in nice glass Pyrex containers for the week.
You will have 21 perfect meals and you will eat 5 of them. Or you’ll eat all 21 and this strategy is great for you. BUT, if it doesn’t work.
I can’t do this because it sucks and I just don’t like having my life even look like it is that prime and proper. It pisses me off and makes me itchy and claustrophobic.
So I get even easier than that. All of my serving utensils are measuring spoons and I have a meat scale in the cupboard.
I cook big batches of food, then when I need to eat I put my plate on the scale and put on 8 ounces of meat, a cup or two of sweet potatoes, and pile on uncounted veggies. 3 seconds. Done. Chewing.
The only reason I weigh my meat consistently is because I tend to over portion my proteins…ummmmm proteins.
I also know the basic numbers of all my carbohydrate sources and in the end it is just not a big deal and everyone goes about their merry day of lifting and functional medicine.
Will these strategies work for you?
I don’t know, but we have to find out what you can do long-term that doesn’t involve a personal chef or a zillion pre-packaged plastic containers in your fridge (unless you are wealthy enough to do this and it works for you – then do that.
Yet, cooking is healing, parasympathetic, and important for digestion, but we don’t have time for that right now).
Remember this is your journey, no one elses. You have to find out what works for you, for your family, for your life.
Then we have to make sure that it is in fact working and this is generally where an expert or mentor comes in to make sure that your quality, quantity, and timing are right for you or at least in the direction you are looking to go.
Have Fun. Eat Real Food. Don’t Be Crazy. And A Have Happy New Year.