I portion count. And it has its issues.
I eat in a way that allows me to explore different foods and share food experiences with the people I love, in a way that allows me to stay fit (seriously, running a half marathon on a week’s notice = stupid, but represents the physical fitness I enjoy having, but not gloating about), in a way that makes me feel good and strong. I also eat in a way that prevents me from losing weight when I’m stressed out and from skipping meals (either consciously or unconsciously).
I started portion counting after losing 25lbs in my first year of teaching. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I was upping my workouts, decreasing my food intake and skipping meals, because the adrenaline and stress was pretty fucking high. So with the help of a nutritionist and some readings, we decided to portion count. Over the years, we have increased the number of portions depending on my weight and mood, moved further away from the macronutrient-focus (how many carbs, proteins, fats, etc.) and more towards total portions (demonstrating a little more trust in my ability to make healthy food choices). However, we continue to portion count because we trust in my ability to make healthy and balanced food choices, we don’t trust in my ability to make enough food choices.
As with any food lifestyle though, there are hazards (and this rhyming off of things will demonstrate my wee bit o’ obsessiveness about food, but fuck off, it serves a purpose here):
Paleo diets, Atkins diets, fruititarians (WTF!), vegans, and the list goes on – these types of food systems often miss out on essential nutrients, they are also a little too limiting in terms of where and what to eat
Weight Watchers, P90X, etc. – these types of food systems portion count, and THEY seem to be okay with it…
Intuitive eating – the moving away from portion counting, this magic dream (but, there are so many people who over-eat “intuitively” and me, who under-eats when “intuitive”)
Going back to the “magic pill” scenario I have written about in the past, I have thought about going vegetarian or vegan. In an ideal world, I could move away from portion counting and just live like this. It would also speak to my animals-are-awesome mindset (especially after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer). It would address many of the issues with global warming, food waste, food cost, animal cruelty, overuse of farmland (clearly I have read a few books about it in my time). However, it would not fix the core issue of MINE = I restrict my food intake when I get stressed. I need to accept that this is a part of me and my personality. I need to accept that as a result, I cannot go down a road like veganism right now (without piggy-backing it on a portion counting scenario, which I guess could happen = a vegetarian/vegan who portion counts…?).
Which leads back to portion counting and its imperfections, because in the same way, portion counting trips me up, causing anxiety because of my propensities and predilections. It is the reason why we started incorporating small and once-a-week cheats, because the anxiousness can be managed this way, the negatives of this food system can be dealt with. Portion counting is not perfect and I would love to sit down with a “food expert” (or a hundred) and hash this out – someone who has gone down the eating disorder path and has been “saved” (the stories of inspiration that I hold dear in my times of need, like those on Oh She Glows or Choosing Raw). However, portion counting is the best thing for just us right now, it allows me to have a great night out with my wife and work out for my grandfather the next day – very much just us.