Calorie Counting: Portion Control or Lunacy? | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Since I started running and subsequently doing triathlons after having my bum firmly planted on couch for quite a while post-child, I submerged myself into a sort of culture of healthiness.

I write about fitness and blog about fitness and have met great friends here online and through triathlon and running groups, it’s been quite a wild ride actually! One that I never saw for myself, not ever in a million years!

But I enjoy living a healthy life. I enjoy being a good example for my children and sharing with those around me what I learn along this journey. Because there is just so much! Even when you think you got it, you don’t! There’s always something new!

And right now if I look around at my life, there are actually more people in my life who watch what they eat and calorie count than those who don’t. And I don’t mean crash diets or yo yos, I mean people who are actually living the life healthily.

I realized this on St. Patrick’s Day while measuring my corned beef in front of family members who don’t calorie count and I realized that it looked sort of funny because someone said something about it to me. At first I got mad because I don’t like to be self-conscious about something I’m doing, I just want to own it and not be judged like I’m doing something wrong.

But then I sat back and tried to look at it from their perspective.

I measure everything out in my measuring cup. I just bought a new fun spoon that I’m excited about that lets you measure 1 tsp or 1 tbs and everything in between depending on where you put the little thingy. And I just bought a food scale because I was perplexed about how much 4 oz. of chicken was (was it 1/4 cup of chicken? What’s the difference between fluid ounces and dry ounces?! Wait, there’s a difference?!)

Every time I eat, I am seen plugging it into my phone, computer or writing it down afterward.

To someone who doesn’t do this, it looks sort of funny. I get that now.

When I began the calorie counting process I was confused on how much I should be eating and I screwed up all the math of it. But then I found that Livestrong and My Fitness Pal both do the math for you and I liked that. Then by measuring, I saw how much I WOULD HAVE eaten if I wasn’t measuring. Because I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t have eaten the amount of pasta that fits into a one-cup measuring cup. I’d have doubled it it no doubt, just pouring it on my plate. This calorie counting was an EYE OPENER.

So I love my new measuring tools! It all makes sense now! It’s like black and white!

I learned about my habits and my portions and how to control them!

Because even when I thought I was eating “healthy,” I was actually eating way too much of “healthy” which would explain why I wasn’t losing weight. Or ironically, being healthy.

However. There is a line to calorie counting and I am walking it.

Because it’s hard when you go places where calories are not clear.

You cannot just go to someone’s house and ask them how much olive oil they used because you count that (and then what kind), and then ask them what brand of hot dogs they’re using and get the box out of their freezer to analyze it. I mean, it did cross my mind to do that recently, but I thought that might look a little fanatical. Plus it might be bad manners. Unless you have an allergy or you are both totally into calorie counting, anyway.

Then one day, my mom packed us a picnic lunch and she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for us and the kids and we all sat down and I said, “Thanks Mom! I love you! But I gotta count these calories here,” in some tactful way that did not come out tactful and then I pulled out my own sandwich, a sandwich I carefully crafted and already had plugged into My Fitness Pal because I only had 1200 to spend that day.

It occurred to me that day that my calorie counting affects other people and not always in the best way.

I’m pretty sure now that there are just some situations where it might be better to let some things go.

It really depends on the person and the situation.

 But it’s funny to me that even when you finally decide what works and you figure out what to do, there are even more things to consider when you’re out there actually doing it.

You don’t want to back down, but you don’t want to offend (in a perfect world everyone would just understand, right?)

So I ask you, where does a person draw the line? Furthermore, does your intricate detail to calorie or point counting make some people around you uncomfortable too?

I’m definitely walking a fine line of fanatical notsomuch because I’m obsessed, but because when I do something I want to be really good at it.

But the idea here should really be moderation because swinging too far in either direction is never really good. (The next question is, does “moderation” fit into calorie counting? Maybe for the long term, but the short term? I can’t wait till I can just “eyeball” my portions. That might help too.)

And although my fanaticalness is paying off, it really does seem to make some people uncomfortable, especially when I turn down food that someone made for me.

Fine line.

Maybe it has to be this way at the beginning for people to know you’re serious. Maybe it makes them feel like they should be calorie counting and they project their insecurities on you. Or maybe they just think you’re too obsessed and you’re on your way to starvation (which for me is not the case but when I measure I can see how it might seem like that to someone who doesn’t understand measuring.)


So for me, it’s a learning experience. Each person, each situation. 

In hindsight, I probably should have just eaten my mom’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

So I thought this was all just black and white. But it turns out it’s just not.

So I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Where do you draw the line? What’s “good manners” in public calorie counting?

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