Weighing and Measuring Foods for Healthy Eating

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Hungry Girl,

Help settle an argument between my friend and me. She says every food can be measured in cups and spoons for accurate portions. I say weighing them on a food scale is best. What do you think?

Brianne in Brooklyn

Hi Brianne,

Weighing and Measuring for Healthy Eating

I'm glad you asked! You've both got the right idea -- paying attention to portion size is key when it comes to weight loss or maintenance. Some people buy snacks with low calorie counts and then eat two to three servings in one sitting... without accounting for the extra calories. So kudos to you both!

Here's the deal... Weight is the most accurate form of measurement for food portions. Why? The amount of food you can fit in a measuring cup or spoon can vary greatly. Think about it: A quarter cup of peanuts may have about 200 calories, but what if some of those peanuts are halved or crushed? Then you could fit a lot more into that quarter cup! A cup of chopped skinless chicken breast might have a supposed 250 calories, but is it finely chopped or closer to cubed? Big difference!

That being said, you don't need to weigh every single thing you eat. But it's a good idea to weigh most calorie-dense foods: nuts, avocado, protein (like fish and chicken), pasta, potatoes, etc. Now some foods -- like oil and sugar -- are very consistent. A tablespoon of oil will always be a tablespoon of oil -- it's not really going to vary in weight. When in doubt, check a food's nutrition label. If the serving size is given in weight, your best bet is to throw it on a food scale.

It's important to weigh and measure ingredients when you're following recipes -- otherwise, the cook times and recipe results can be altered. In HG recipes, we always list ounces/pounds for foods that should be measured on a scale. The rest can be measured with measuring cups and spoons.

Of course, there will definitely be times when you don't have access to any form of measurement... at restaurants, lunch meetings, etc. The way to handle those situations is to prepare yourself ahead of time. Pay close attention to portion sizes when you're weighing and measuring them at home, so you'll be better at eyeballing those serving sizes when you're out and about.

Pssst... Every kitchen should have a set of measuring cups and spoons, plus a food scale. They don't need to be fancy, just functional. Perhaps buy that friend of yours a surprise scale? It could help lessen the blow when you win the argument :)


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