How We Did It

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you have heard it over and over. Eat less, exercise more. I have heard it over and over. COMPASS relies on logging what you eat. Mealtime at our house is now part math lesson. When the girls get around to studying measurement at school, they will beat it cold. Everything we eat gets measured, looked up and recorded. Is it a pain, maybe. Is it hard to explain that we can't eat that to Yael, yes. She is getting better. She does understand that we make choices in what we eat. Birthday party on Sunday, no ice cream on Wednesday.

• Record everything you eat. Not just what, but how much. Just try it for a day, you will be surprised at how much you eat. Now with that, look up and measure what a portion is. A regular McDonalds hamburger is one portion of meat. A Big Mac, two. Now look up the correct calorie count for what you ate. Did you get a number under 2,000 for a day? Not bad. I was probably eating 3,000 or more calories a day before COMPASS. I might have a 2,000 calorie lunch. Keep an honest record. 'Mr. Scale' knows what you really ate.

• Weight and measure everything. I have worked in foodservice for 25 years. I have weighed other peoples food thousands of times. Now I measure my own. We bought a digital scale. I love it. Yael weights her food out all the time now. The COMPASS program provided each participant with a set of measuring spoons and cups at the beginning of the program. You can get them at the dollar store. The key is using them.

Some good portion charts:

WebMD (wallet sized chart)

US Department of Agriculture

Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

• Five grams of fat, three grams of sugar. Nothing we eat goes over these two numbers per serving. Well, almost. COMPASS uses the 'traffic light' system. Foods are Green, Yellow or Red. We limit ourselves to 14 'red light' foods a week.

• No soda or sweetened drinks. No diet drinks either. This is for a combination of adjusting your tastes away from sweet foods and there may be something to the chemistry that diet drinks make you hungry.

• Everything counts. We no longer have salad dressings, butter, margarine or cream sauces.

• Get it out of the house. The food pantry received most of our red light foods.

• It is ok to eat some red light foods. Sometimes you need a cookie. It is ok to have cake at a party. Adjust what you eat during the week to have some room under your goal for the foods. Denying yourself leads to have a bag of cookies, not one.

• Weigh yourself regularly, but not every day.