Last Sunday, on day two of my journey, the Oscars were on TV. My wife, daughter and I had decided to settle in to watch for a while. It was after dinner, and I was feeling a bit snacky! One of my favorite snacks is mixed nuts. My wife gets them at Costco. She usually buys two of the large vessels of nuts – one lightly salted, the other unsalted. We mix them together in a big bowl, then put them back in the jugs. As I was preparing my snack, my daughter asked when I’d be down to watch the show. My answer of “I’ll be there as soon as I weigh my nuts,” was met with gales of laughter from both the women in the house.
I had previously used the Weight Watcher’s App on my phone to determine that one ounce of the mixed nuts was equal to 5 points. But, I had no real idea how much was one ounce (I later learned I could use the quarter cup dry measure to find the same amount). My wife told me that we had an electronic scale like the one here:
So, I got out a ramekin, put it on the scale empty and then added nuts until it went up by one ounce. This is what one ounce of nuts looks like:
This is where the retraining of my brain comes in. As I said, I like to eat mixed nuts. It is a frequent snack for after work, but before dinner. In the picture below the bowl on the left was my previous snack size, compared to a healthy, 5 point version on the right.
I checked this morning. That is 10 ounces of nuts, or FIFTY POINTS! That’s right, my after work snack was registering at upwards of FIFTY POINTS. It’s no damn wonder I have added an “X” to my sizes in each of the last couple of years.
I have to re-teach my brain how to think about portions. I have wondered at times why it is that my wife can make such healthy dinners, I can eat relatively little at breakfast during the week, and still gain weight. It is because my brain and my eyes don’t have a healthy concept of portions. I see a pile of food as something to be conquered. My mother taught me to always clean my plate, so when I am in restaurants that is what I do. I’ll be damned if I am going to let something like a full tummy keep me from joining the Captain Penny Clean Plate Club (yes, that was an actual thing. In the 1970s there was a local childrens’ TV show in Cleveland called Captain Penny, and one of his things was to make sure kids ate all their dinner).
Here is another example. On Saturday mornings I like to sit on the couch and watch some TV. I will pour myself a bowl of cereal, add milk, and head downstairs. In recent years, this has been the bowl I have used:
That one is filled with Kellog’s Frosted Flakes. I looked up the nutrition information for Kellog’s Frosted Flakes (btw, Their Greeeaaat!). I learned that a portion has 0 fat, 26g of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber. Add in a half cup of 2% milk, and you get a nice, 5 point breakfast. It would look something like this (without the milk)
The portion size on the package is ¾ of a cup of cereal. The green bowl above has 4.5 cups of cereal in it, or 6 times the portion on the package. Assuming I put in a couple of cups of milk and you now have a 22 point, diet busting breakfast. (Did I mention that I sometimes refill the bowl if the TV show isn’t done yet?)
After one week I am certainly no expert on weight loss, or on portion control. I know I have much to learn. And, it is going to take a long time until my brain automatically sees a healthy portion and only encourages me to eat that amount.