I have never had a good sense of proportion or size. If someone asked me to estimate the height of a ceiling, my estimates would easily be twice the actual. This is even more confusing with food because it comes in so many units – servings, ounces, grams, oz, floz, pound, liter, kg – you get the drift.
My first leap in understanding what I was eating was to understand the composition of food and the difference between its constituents, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. I next learnt to differentiate between good quality and poor quality nutrients. Finally I learnt to understand what a good meal was composed of so that I got everything in the proportions that I needed, hopefully. However, I always estimated the quantity of the food I was eating while tracking what I was eating – put simply – “I just ate 50 gms of cottage cheese” and yes I do track what I eat religiously everyday.
I recently bought a weighing scale for food. I was motivated only to better understand quantities as I work to create a list of recipes of healthful foods. It turns out I was even worse at estimating sizes in food. My 50 gms of cottage cheese turned out to be closer to 200 and this was true across all food categories and types. Since then I have tried to measure most of what I eat if for no other reason than be more truthful to myself. There is nothing like hard numbers to set your illusions free.
Growing up, we were always taught to finish what was on the plate. As a child, it may even have been a good idea. As an adult, this can have long term impact on your body and therefore making the shift in understanding proportion is an important milestone toward wellness.