The Scale is Not the Enemy
Ditching the food scale and learning to honor my intuition was one of the greatest things I could have done for both my physical and mental health. For years, I weighed every single gram of food that entered my body. I looked for a way to control my life externally, while in reality, the scale was controlling ME. Or rather, I was giving it the POWER to control me. Only until I stopped judging the scale and rather started seeing it as a neutral object, could I heal my toxic relationship with it for good.
I could spend 5 minutes weighing a cup of oats to make sure it was EXACTLY 50 grams, pour it in the pan, only to pour it right back on the scale to *double check* that it was indeed 50 grams. At one point, it became so bad that I purchased ANOTHER food scale because I couldn’t trust the one I already had. I didn’t trust anything or anyone anymore. I would even weigh pre-portioned things like protein bars, slices of bread, and yogurt cups. There was even this one time that I completely panicked because I was in utter astonishment how one slice of bread could weigh x grams.
It was my favorite dense, seedy bread, but after discovering how much it weighed and that I would only be “allowed” to have one slice due to its high weight, I never purchased it again and always bought the plain whole wheat bread that was dry and wasn’t truly what I wanted.
I was making myself absolutely crazy with this obsession for knowing how much food I was consuming. The funny thing is, I wasn’t even counting calories at this point…but it was the FEAR of not being able to attach a number to food that scared the absolute sh*t out of me. This fear is what kept me stuck in measuring food all this time.
To be honest, I stopped measuring my food because it became too damn EXHAUSTING. I was tired of spending an hour creating one bowl of oatmeal, only to be unsatisfied (extreme hunger at this point was REAL too) and to spend another 1/2 hour making a loaded yogurt bowl of which every ingredient had been weighed. I spent so much time portioning my food that I lost sight of what really mattered in life anymore. I was letting life pass me by…because of WHAT? Knowing how many grams of grains I consumed that day.
It was so insanely ridiculous, and I knew that, yet I couldn’t stop. I had days where I thought ‘let’s do this!’ and I’d eat completely intuitively and not weigh anything and feel amazing. But then as soon as I got stressed or anxious I’d turn back to the food scale for one thing, and go ham on all my progress because I had ‘failed’. It was EXACTLY THIS; this black & white thinking that kept me stuck in my compulsion to weigh food. Only when I started to give myself grace, that’s when I truly healed my relationship with the food scale.
I would try my best to NOT weigh my food, but if I did, so be it. Accept that and do better next time. While almost ALL of my therapists and doctors and medical “experts” (as well as several friends) strongly advised me to just get rid of the scale, this only made the problem worse. Take Carolina House for example. I brought my food scale with me the day I got admitted. I couldn’t bare the risk of not having it, even though I knew I wasn’t allow to measure anything there. But my food scale was my most prized possession at the time, so I brought it, *just in case* they would let me use it. Of course, they didn’t. In fact, they encouraged me to do the opposite. One of my therapists challenges for me, was to smash my food scale. At this point in my treatment there, I was so sick of being in residential that I would do everything I could to show my treatment team I was ready for discharge. So i smashed my scale and recorded a video of it, but this physical displacement of the object surely had not removed it mentally.
When I stepped down to partial, I immediately bought another food scale. The initial decision to get rid of it was never my own, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in recovery, I’ve learned that it can only come from within. That initial food scale removal decision definitely DID NOT come from within, so that’s also why it didn’t work at having me give it up. Clearly, the opposite happened! I continued using my food scale during the meals I prepared at home, no one knowing that I had it. But at the same time, I was fine with eating out or eating meals cooked by others, I just couldn’t not use it myself if I had the chance. My food scale usage continued on until only recently; it wasn’t as obsessive, but I still had a really hard time with cooking/making something of which the ingredients had not been weighed.
Even though I was using it occasionally, It no longer drove me mad. Why? Because I didn’t judge it anymore. I didn’t judge my usage of the food scale as ‘bad’ or not measuring food as ‘good’. It simply became a neutral object, one that I needed sometimes, and would be fine without at other times. A food scale, is in fact, just an object! Just like a spatula or a book or a pillow, they're simply objects--they only have the power that you give them. And saying that the food scale was my enemy, well that's a fuck ton of power to give to an inanimate object! It was letting go of the resistance towards what I *should* be doing that allowed me to be OKAY with preparing food without using my food scale. Because I think we all know, when you feel you *should* be doing something, it gets harder to really do it!
Over time, my need for the food scale dissipated. I no longer attached judgment to its usage, so it also lost its importance. I still have my food scale. I still use it daily for testing new recipes and converting units for both my customary and metric users, but I no longer use it as a means to control my daily meals, snacks, or whenever I don’t really need to. It’s simply another kitchen tool, such as a spatula, that I only get out once the recipe calls for it! My body is so damn smart and knows how much peanut butter to top my oats with. My body knows when it wants 1 square of chocolate or 3 pieces of double chocolate cake with extra frosting on top. Not every day is the same, and that’s okay. Our bodies are ever-changing, and that’s okay. The only certainty in life is uncertainty…but one thing that is always certain is our intuition. It guides us towards our hopes and dreams and can be trusted, no matter how hard that may seem.
Want answers to the top 10 questions about Extreme Hunger?
Download your free guide!