Weighing In on Weighing Food

For some odd reason pulling out a scale to weigh my food reminds me of Dwight Schrute’s (from ‘The Office’) calculator watch.

Weighing my food is a personal preference and I should not care what other people think, but it makes me feel incredibly weird. I try to be discreet about it, but why?!?! Why do I care that other people think I am weird for making healthy choices.
Anyway, that’s a tangent… when I started weighing my food, I found some really big discrepancies in my idea of a serving and the actual serving size on the label. Regardless of your position on weighing and logging food, I think everyone in the nutrition community would agree that knowledge of serving size is very important. For me, that knowledge comes via a food scale.
I weigh almost everything I eat because I find that I still have a ‘heavy hand’ with certain foods if I do not measure the amounts. By weighing foods, I have become MUCH better at estimating serving sizes when I am at a restaurant, cookout, etc.
The deceptive serving sizes that make me double check my scale are probably common to others, so I thought I would share some of my biggest surprises. (If you commonly scoop out ice cream and think it is ½ c, prepare to have your dreams crushed. Sorry in advance.)
My first shock was creamer. I logged using MyFitnessPal before I began weighing my food. Generally, I would assume I was using a serving of most things… creamer included. Imagine my surprise when my first morning of logging (actually, the first thing I ever measured) was grossly off. I placed the creamer on the scale, poured my normal ‘1 tablespoon’ into my coffee and then remeasured… then I rubbed my eyes thinking I was still asleep. One serving of creamer is 15 mL and I used 44 mL, almost three servings!!!
Although I do not regularly eat cereal (it does not really satisfy my hunger), occasionally I crave a ‘bowl’ of cereal. I use the term bowl lightly because a typical cereal bowl is 2-3 servings of cereal. One serving is shown on the left and it looks like a few lonely ‘Os’ in a bowl. A bowl of cereal is shown on the right and it is almost 3 servings.

Even though packaged food has a weight, it is not always correct. Single serve food like protein bars have a weight printed on the packaging, but these can be off by 10-20%. While 10-20% is not going to make a significant difference if you eat one protein bar (or other prepackaged food) it is important to note that these weights are not exact. In hind sight, it would be impossible for food manufacturers to ensure that every product is an accurate to the gram weight.
Rewind about 5 years, my main (maybe only) source of protein was peanut butter. I still love the creamy sweet and salty goodness of peanut butter, but I eat much less of it now than in the past. I eat less because I now know what a serving size is (insert sad face here) and because I am a little more wise about my protein sources. One heaping spoonful of peanut butter is about 40 grams… this is more than one serving.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but ice cream servings are a joke… a not funny joke. I have extreme admiration for the person that can scoop out and eat one serving of ice cream without measuring. A serving of ice cream is ½ C. Putting one serving of ice cream in a typical bowl is like a kayak in the ocean. When I measured my ‘serving’ of ice cream – it was actually almost 4 servings. Ok, I knew this wasn’t really one serving, but I was in denial.


Weighing foods may not be a feasible solution to maintain their desired body weight and composition for a lifetime. However, it is extremely important to understand what we are putting in our bodies, and part of this understanding is the quantity of food we consume. I recommend weighing your food, even if for a short period, to get a better understanding of a ‘serving.’
What is the one food serving that is most deceiving for you??