I know this is a loaded statement, and i’m willing to back it up over and over again. In high school I wish someone would have told me that calorie counting wasn’t normal, healthy, or even effective! Hopefully I can spare you, encourage you, to take the easier, healthier, and happier path. Are you ready to dive in?
1. Calorie Counting Will Make You Fat.
There’s quite a few things wrong with calorie counting to lose weight, but i’ll just shed some light onto the main reason why I think it’s ineffective. When I was calorie counting, I used to think 1,200-1,500 calories was “normal” for weight loss. I didn’t take into account that I was working out an hour a day, studying long hours, and dealing with tons of stress. My body was crying out for food, but I kept ignoring it because I thought I had already “had enough” if I was eating 1,700 calories. I was starving myself on 1,200 calories and didn’t even know it. I thought that was normal … I thought that meant I had eaten “well” for the day.
When you deprive your body of the food it wants and needs, you set yourself up for intense cravings and binges. This is exactly why calorie counting makes you fat, sad, and obsessed. I craved sweets constantly (hello! false cravings signaling my body needed ENERGY) and when I gave in, my body latched onto anything and everything. One cookie turned into five, which turned into a whole day of bad eating, which in turn made me gain weight. I remember thinking one cookie made me gain weight, but what I didn’t realize is that it was the constant fluctuation between starving and binging that was actually making my body weight fluctuate so rapidly. This brings me to my next point…
2. Calorie Counting Will Make You Sad.
When we deprive our body of nutrients and energy (read: calories) that we need to function, the first thing to go is our mood. I remember being in a pretty constant state of irritability, sadness, and anxiousness. When we’re not properly nourished, our body resorts to low-level moods because all other energy is spent taking care of brain and body functioning. Think about it: when you’re bursting with high-vibe energy, you’re happier, more grateful, and more positive. When you’ve gotten a horrible night sleep and feeling sick, your mood is usually down quite a bit to make energy for other things, such as keeping you awake and moving.
Another sad thing about calorie counting is that it takes all the joy out of eating. When we look at food as only a number instead of nourishment, love, and healing, we lose the connection to food and our bodies. Food is extremely healing, loving, and nurturing if we let it, but calorie counting will never bring us to this deep level of appreciation for the food and nutrients that go into our bodies. When we lose this connection, food no longer brings us anything but another math problem, another pound gained, or another pound lost. That, to me, is very sad.
3. Calorie Counting Will Make You Crazy.
It’s important to be conscious of calories, but not to count up all the little morsels of food you’ve consumed and try to tally it up. First off, this is extremely ineffective. As humans and not scientific machines, we are totally unable to estimate and figure out exactly how much we ate and how many calories were in it. Think about how long it would take to do this, and how meticulous you would have to be to come even remotely close to the number of calories you’re actually consuming. Let’s get real: You’re probably underestimating – or overestimating – and totally off in the number of calories you are eating. All of this is extremely time-consuming, frustrating, and misleading. Not to mention that if there was any enjoyment left in that plain grilled chicken breast and piece of lettuce, it’s definitely gone now.
I can’t tell you how many hours I probably wasted looking up exactly how many calories were in the 5 fries and the teaspoon-and-a-half (If I remembered correctly…) of ketchup that I ate. Here’s the thing: We KNOW what is healthy and nourishing for us, and we know what’s not. Trying to justify eating those junky, chemical, food-like products by saying they are “low calorie,” “fat free,” or “sugar free” is simply adding to the craziness of calorie counting. I remember I could convince myself that those fries were a great choice if they fit into my calorie allotment for the day. Boy, was I wrong.
I also just want to touch on something I mentioned earlier, and that is the fact that the intense cravings, starving and binging that come along with calorie counting take an enormous toll on your mental health. You will literally become so obsessed you can’t see past the numbers, and this creates an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. So what is your other option?
Eat For Health. Eat For Happiness. Eat Whole Foods.
I could go on about this for every post for the next five years, but this is as simple as I can get.
Eat foods that you KNOW are good for you! Eat foods you WANT, but make them healthier. Eat foods in their whole natural state.
You don’t need a nutritionist, an expert, or anyone else to tell you what’s good for you. The simplest trick is to eat foods in their whole state as often as possible. What does that mean? Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc.), fresh fruits, steamed or raw veggies, lean meats from humane, grass-fed farms, legumes, nuts and seeds, tons of leafy greens, and ample amounts of healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
When you eat in a way that is aimed at good health, you finally get the benefits you’ve been looking for: losing weight, radiant clear skin, long luscious hair, and a happy, energetic mood.
When we eat in this way, we start to make the connection between what we eat and how we feel (health-wise and mood-wise). The most rewarding thing for me when I stopped calorie counting is that I opened more mental space to be creative, positive, and inquisitive. I started being empowered by food instead of controlled by it. I started to respect my body, respect the food I was putting into my body, and respect the way food made me feel. The difference between when I calorie-counted and now that I don’t is huge: I never binge, never starve, never allow myself to be controlled by food or cravings. I enjoy my food, I love nourishing my body with healthy foods, and I have a sense of freedom and empowerment when it comes to making healthy choices for my body and mind.
I hope if you’re calorie counting now that you can experiment with letting it go and opening up a beautiful new chapter in your life. If you used to calorie count and now eat intuitively, i’m sure you can attest to what i’m saying: calorie counting sucks! Intuitive eating is love, happiness, and true health.
Need help, advice, or someone to talk to? I’m here anytime to listen and offer guidance (if you want!) 🙂