Unit Foods

I have said a few times on this blog how I just couldn’t deal with another diet again and maybe I’ve been a bit negative about my time on Weight Watchers. The truth is, I once lost over 100 lbs on Weight Watchers. I kept it off for years, too, until I didn’t and gained it all back (plus a little extra). For me, the problem with WW is that it becomes a game: What can I get away with and still lose weight. Also, it focuses so much on the weight loss, which becomes counter-productive. You can only maintain that for so long.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren't going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let's be clear: Just being a unit food doesn't make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren’t going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let’s be clear: Just being a unit food doesn’t make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

I did learn some helpful things in WW, that I continue to use today. Going to all those meetings, I learned a lot about what is in foods. I had this one leader, Margot, that I loved. She was the only leader I ever met that made sense to me. Among her many words of wisdom, she taught me the term “unit food.”

unit food is a food that comes in single serving size. You don’t have to measure or weigh. You just get one unit. Food’s that are naturally unit foods are apples, eggs, and hot dogs. While it is possible to eat half of an apple or two eggs, you don’t accidentally consume an extra 2 oz of these foods when you serve yourself. The advantage of unit foods is you aren’t fooling yourself.

yogurtSome foods can be purchased as unit foods. For example, the Fage® yogurt that I eat every single day comes in single serve containers. I also purchase frozen yogurt (Healthy Choice) and Sabra Hummus in single serve. Frequently these foods are more expensive, because you are paying for the wrapping. However, it is worth it. When I buy a large (multi-serve) container of yogurt, for example, I find it is a struggle to make sure I have the proper serving. Some days I’m a little more generous than others. So it is better for me to pay a little extra and have a serving I can just grab-and-go.

Some foods aren’t available as unit foods or are too expensive that way. Whenever I can, I try to make my own unit foods. For example, I buy a big bag of almonds and measure out 1 oz into snack-size plastic bags. I also make a big pot of rice and beans every week, and then measure out single servings into plastic containers.  Technically they aren’t unit foods, but once I’ve measured and sealed them, they sort of are. It isn’t likely that I’m going to open up another plastic container and eat a few bites of rice and beans. If there was a big pot or bowl of it, I probably would, but once it’s been sectioned out, I pretty much can stick to the sections.

All of this is to say, you need to find tricks that work for you to get control over the food. For me, it’s unit foods and eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. For you it might be something else.

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