Flexible dieting has been around for several years now, and although people are more open to learning more about this popular method of dieting, there is still some hesitation especially once they hear they have to measure their food using a food scale. I can totally understand why as it sounds time-consuming, tedious and a little obsessive to most individuals. Growing up, I always used measuring cups and spoons when baking or making a recipe. We never had a food scale and I didn’t even know they existed outside of the produce department of the grocery store. Because this can be an overwhelming and foreign topic to newbie dieters, I wanted to bring up my thoughts on why a food scale can be beneficial to you, when you should be using it and if it’s absolutely necessary for as long as you want to incorporate following a flexible method of dieting.
Benefits of using a food scale:
- Weighing your food using this method is going to be the most accurate. Measuring cups/spoons simply aren’t going to be as precise as weighing out an item in grams, ounces, or milliliters.
- This method is going to teach you true portion sizes. After a good couple weeks minimum of using a food scale, you will learn to know what portion sizes look like for foods that you eat consistently. This is probably the most beneficial aspect of using a food scale when learning about proper nutrition, therefore I do recommend the use of it for beginners. Once you familiarize yourself with portion sizes, you have then learned a new skill and can use that forever. If you weigh out 4 ounces of chicken breast one or two times, you should be able to visualize now what that 4 ounces looks like for future reference.
When should you use a food scale?
- At the beginning of your journey when you are learning about nutrition. I suggest that most of our new clients utilize a food scale for at least a few weeks to familiarize themselves with portions and the makeup of foods they commonly eat.
- If you’re eating something out of the norm. So you already can eyeball your common foods since you spent some time using the food scale in the beginning, but what happens when you incorporate something you don’t usually eat or a new food? Use your food scale to measure it out one or two times, become familiar and eyeball moving forward.
Is a food scale something you need to use forever?
Absolutely not! As mentioned, I think a food scale is best for beginners, and also if you need to be a little more strict than usual for an event (competition, meet, etc). The point of flexible dieting is to educate yourself on the makeup of foods (protein, carbs, fats, and calories) and then to actually be FLEXIBLE. A food scale is a great learning tool but is not necessary if you have learned the skill of eyeballing your food portions. Flexible dieting can take an ugly turn when the process of tracking macros and weighing every ounce on the food scale turns into an obsession. It’s important to remind yourself that this is JUST a tool and that not every single thing needs to be tracked down to the gram (for instance coffee creamer, mustard or sugar-free gum).
Instead of thinking of weighing your food as a tedious, obsessive task, know that it is JUST an aid that can help eliminate margin of human error. We all like to think that a true tablespoon of peanut butter is really just how much we can fit on the spoon without it falling off, but chances are if you’ve never weighed any of your food, your portions are probably off by a good amount. Proper portion control is a learned technique that will be beneficial throughout your life- food scale or not.