27 October 2011

Pasta Maths...

So, like the creature of habit that I am...I have been having a specific pasta from a specific supermarket since I started eating pasta again, mainly because it seemed to be the lowest calorie and it was small tiny (made for children type) pasta so it took me longer to eat and looked like more.

Today I went to buy it – and before I picked it up I looked at the calorie content of the other wholemeal pasta and it was LOADS higher and stood there with both in my hands I wondered why.

It turn out the reason to blame is the burden of my anorexic life. Cooked vs Dry weight calorie information.

I think it is because on other pasta it is the dry weight and the one I have is the cooked weight, but I have been basing my calories on the DRY weight of the one I brought. So, basically this made me FREAK out whilst I was in the supermarket and then whilst I was walking to the bus the maths was going round and round in my head. I was desperately trying to figure out if I was right or not. I couldn’t let it go; I couldn’t stop wondering if I had totally overeaten EVERY time I have had pasta. I was ANGRY with myself for making a mistake, misreading the calorie rules, the instructions written in front of me. How could I be so stupid NOT to know the numbers?

< Cue Ana starting her usual "You are SUCH an IDIOT" song.>  

Those measurements and numbers really got to me there and then walking down the street; “so 50g dry weight would equal 100g cooked weight and 100g cooked weight would be 100 calories and other pasta dry weight 100g equals 300 calories so…..” and on and on. Then it turned into “and that means this pasta is MORE or less than the others anyway.” I suppose that fact made Ana feel a bit better. But I have NO idea of working it out and no idea how much I have actually consumed. 

Do the numbers in the pasta I've already had matter?

Then I stopped. (literally) It suddenly occurred to me that EVEN if I have eaten ten times more than I thought, or just twice as much, it hasn't made me instantly fat. I haven’t gained lots of weight because I didn't know the exact calorie content, I haven’t ballooned from not knowing exact numbers and I need to learn from this that the numbers DON’T matter, do they?

What I need to do now is FORGET the calories in that meal, forget the numbers related to the pasta. I have been happy with my portion size, measured in a little cup to the same point each time, so why change it. My initial thought was, “well next time I have pasta, I will weigh the same portion size dry and then weigh it cooked” so I can work it out. 

But what will I achieve by doing that? It would only allow Ana to criticize me for the meals I have ALREADY eaten (and enjoyed) and allow her to dictate how much pasta I’d have to sacrifice to keep the calories in the meal to what I THOUGHT they were. But the thing is, I probably still need to INCREASE the portion of pasta I have, and really, this proves that the numbers can go wrong, they aren’t always accurate and they don’t matter as much as Ana makes me believe.

Plus, I really do love pasta! Shh, don’t tell Ana! 


  1. I think that if numbers didn't exist, Ana would have a lot less power. Calories, weight, BMI, fat grams, pant sizes....the list of things that are measured by numbers goes on and on. So many numbers to obsess about and rule our lives. They're the numbers that make feel like I have a sense of control when everything else seems totally chaotic.

    I think that the more we can let go of our reliance on numbers the better. I'm so glad that you realized that the numbers on the pasta box don't matter as much as you thought. Ana would have you obsess about it all day if she could. Don't give her the time of day!


  2. I totally agree.
    And the worst bit, as a writer/journalist, maths was NEVER my strongest subject and I ALWAYS forget numbers and lose count, so since struggling with my ED I've always got upset about adding - which lead to me becoming obsessed with writing it all down, measurements, cals and weights. I am SLOWLY stopping all that and keeping a 'rough' idea in my head. But rough is always over-estimated which isn't good when i DONT hit targets you know?

    As we I type I have a window up on Google Crome as I look for the cals in a teaspoon of peanut butter - and guessing how much I acutally just ate, even though i'm prob still 200 under for the day. AGAIN.

    I actually DESPISE numbers. Ana is the one who loves them. Although 'knowing' the exact numbers does make me feel 'safer'

    S xx