Carrie Underwood Swears by Using a Food Scale for Portion Control, but Is That Really Necessary?
She rose to fame as America's sweetheart on American Idol back in 2005, and since, Carrie Underwood has grown to have quite the empire. The 37-year-old singer is now a mom of two, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder and lead designer of her own activewear brand, CALIA by Carrie Underwood. Whew! And somewhere between all of that, Underwood found time to release her first-ever Christmas album, My Gift, as well as pen her latest book, Find Your Path ($19.37 on Amazon)—both of which are out now.
As major fans of the celeb's powerful voice, dedicated fitness routine and down-to-earth personality, team EatingWell was excited to dive into Find Your Path to learn more about Underwood's daily life—and TBH, steal some kitchen secrets. We were especially inspired to do so after watching her whip up a majorly tempting quiche recipe on The Rachael Ray Show earlier this year!
While many of the recipes, including tortilla pizzas, sound incredible, we were most surprised to learn that the digital kitchen scale is Underwood's favorite kitchen tools. While she's opened up about her belief that there's no such thing as cheat days, the singer also recently revealed to Women's Health that she "loves rules," when it comes to tracking her nutrition, which generally breaks down to a macronutrient ratio of 45 percent carbs, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. "This is how I feel good about myself, and this is how I operate."
As far as weighing foods on her kitchen scale, Underwood writes in Find Your Path that, "Eyeballing just doesn't work for me. If I try to eyeball portions, they creep up in size. If I put a cup of pasta on my plate but I don't measure it, you can bet that what I think is a cup is actually closer to two cups," Underwood says. "A cup of green beans, a cup of yogurt, and a cup of popcorn all have different weights, and measuring by cups or fractions of a cup isn't very accurate...which is why one of my favorite tools is a digital kitchen scale. A scale tells me exactly how much I'm eating in a way a measuring cup can't."
Okay, we're on board with scaling back or splitting Cheesecake Factory-sized mountains of pasta, but we also see the value in intuitive eating and listening to your gut. Literally.
"I think food scales can be a helpful tool to get a sense of what to put on your plate. Like Underwood says, you think you're eating a cup of pasta or cereal and then it turns out to be two cups. It can be especially helpful with foods you eat all the time, to see what they look like in your bowls or your plates, to get a sense of what you typically eat and what is satisfying," explains Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D., senior digital nutrition editor for EatingWell. "It may also help people feel like they don't have to make certain foods or food groups off limits, but rather enjoy all foods in moderation. Plus, they're great for baking because you get exact measurements," that will help the end product turn out correctly.
That being said, it's important to note that portion sizes are always suggestions, since every body is different and has different needs, Valente says.
"While you might get a sense of portions from using a scale, over time I would encourage people to listen to their bodies and not just the numbers from the food scale. Some days, you're going to be hungrier and need more than one cup of pasta. Some days you might not be as hungry," she adds.
If you have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating, you should probably steer clear of weighing or measuring every bite, Valente says. And if you find yourself getting obsessive with weighing your food—that's a good sign it's time to hide (or donate) that scale.
Of course, whatever feels best for Underwood is totally cool for her to stick with; we'll just be eyeballing our portions based on our hunger levels and reserving the scale for tricky cakes and breads.
"For some people, measuring out food might be helpful, especially as they learn more about healthy portions. Eating a varied and balanced diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, proteins and healthy fat–with some treats too—is a great way of eating and helps make it so you don't need to track or measure every bite," she concludes.
That sounds like a good path for us all to find.