Viewing Calories as Currency: How to Practice Portion Control

Imagine that you are out of town and you only have $20 to spend on food for the day. How would you spend it? You probably wouldn’t spend all of it on breakfast. And if you wanted to have both lunch and dinner, you would be careful of the amount you spend on lunch.

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Imagine that you are out of town and you only have $20 to spend on food for the day. How would you spend it? You probably wouldn’t spend all of it on breakfast. And if you wanted to have both lunch and dinner, you would be careful of the amount you spend on lunch. 

Calories are very similar to currency.

There is an amount of calories that you can have today to maintain your current weight, or lose or gain weight. The next time you are choosing your meal, snack or treat, ask yourself 1 simple question. Do you actually want to spend your calories on that?

Plan your day and consider how many calories you wish to spend on breakfast, lunch, dinner and any possible snacks. Keep your quantity of calories in mind, just as you would money in your bank account. Begin viewing eating “extra” calories as over-withdrawing your account. Though you are able to eat as much food as you can physically fit in your mouth, there is still a price to pay. It appears on the scale, the mirror and sometimes is reflected in your general health. 

Make sure that if you are going to have a treat or splurge that it is truly worth it. Does that cookie, doughnut or bagel on the conference room table actually look fresh and well-made? Is that pizza on display in the cafeteria really appetizing and delicious? If it is not, instead have something healthy. Save your calories for later, when you can find a quality slice of pizza, cookie, etc. 

If the food is low in nutritional value and/or high in fat or sugar, shouldn't it at least be incredibly tasty? Otherwise, why are you eating? 

I can only think of 2 rational reasons to eat food. The first is nutritional value and the second is taste. I try to have my food fit both criteria at least 80% of the time to maintain a healthy and fit life. Whenever I choose to splurge and use my calories on a treat, it is always delicious!

Remember, calories are currency! Watch your spending and set standards to place value on your food. Make it nutritious and delicious as often as possible. But when a food is not both nutritious and delicious, it should at least be delicious!  If you are going to splurge, don't waste calories on a plate of dry bland cookies!  Wait and enjoy some of your favorite cookies instead!

Blog written by Taisha Hayes
Taisha Hayes is a personal trainer and the founder of a motivational weight loss website. Growing up with a love of food and an...