We've been taught to think that counting calories is a great way to lose weight, keep our size stable, and prevent us from having serious muffin top. But counting calories just ain't all it's cracked up to be.
The three reasons why counting calories doesn't work:
1. It makes you think about food ALL the time.
Do you really want to be weighing, measuring, counting and analyzing your food each and every time you eat? Heck no. Living that way locks you into a “food prison”.
And you don't want to be a slave to scouring every label at the super market, checking each portion size before you eat, and measuring out your food to exactly 1300 calories per day.
I remember doing Weight Watchers years ago. I had one of those moments where I reverted back to old patterns for a second and thought, “OK, I just want to lose like 5 pounds and then I'll go back to my ‘normal' eating”.
So I signed up for Weight Watchers for a month.
Want to know how long I lasted? Not even three full days.
Because ALL I did was think about food. Counting and weighing and calculating points…it was TORTURE. I thought about what I could eat, what I really wanted to eat, and what I was allowed to eat all freaking day.
I had gone from obsessing about food every once in a while to driving myself crazy with the points I was allowed to eat all day.
When you're counting calories, you are focusing on food. All. Day. Long.Which is the OPPOSITE of what you really want.
2. It causes you to live entirely in your head.
Counting calories causes you to approach food from a completely mental standpoint. You make up rules about what you can and can't eat, what has the best bang for the calorie buck, and what's the healthiest (based on the lowest amount of calories).
And this also keeps you locked in that food prison because you never get in touch with what your BODY wants. Remember, we are feeding our bodies, not our minds.
So, it's not really beneficial to you to dictate how you eat solely based on your mind's rules. It's like you disconnect your body from your mind when you're counting calories all the time.
3. It's completely unrealistic in the long run.
Think of a woman you know who is naturally thin. She doesn't constantly worry about food and her weight. And she doesn't count calories. Because counting calories is just not sustainable in the long run.
It's not fun or productive to constantly be measuring, weighing, and analyzing your food. And it's definitely not realistic.
Let's say you go to a friend's for dinner. Do you really want to have to think about what you're eating, how many calories it has, what has the least fat grams, and how you can eat the least amount of calories the entire time you're there? No way! Living like this is NOT enjoyable.
Counting calories is based on a deep-seated fear that you can't “manage” your food intake on your own. You have to constantly monitor it or else you'll spiral out of control.
Counting calories is the band-aid. In order to solve the problem (not WANTING to count calories) you gotta dig deeper!
Here's how to approach food instead:
1. Eat Intuitively.
This is also known as “eating to satisfy” or eating what you want. The only way to feel sane around food is to begin to tune in to your body.
It's the law of dieting: restricting will always lead to binging. When you count calories, you're restricting. So, inevitably, you'll throw in the towel, say screw it, and eat 17 cookies.
The way out of this is beginning to ask your body what it wants and needs. There is a still voice inside of you that is always guiding you, giving you advice, and letting you know what will serve you. This includes your food choices. The body innately knows what it needs to feel great.
Start asking your body what it wants. And listen for the answer. It may be hard to hear at first, but it will get easier as you begin to tune in.
2. Begin to trust yourself.
Deep down, you're afraid to let go of counting calories and trust your body. Believe me, I get it. It's scary shit! Letting go of control around what you eat and learning to trust yourself is one of the hardest things to learn. But it's worth it.
Trust all begins with experimenting. You can't go from never trusting yourself around food to 100% trust. It doesn't work like that. It's like a relationship. You build that trust slowly over time. Each time you eat you experiment with trusting yourself just a little bit more.
If you count calories every meal, try having one meal where you experiment with what your body needs/wants. If you count calories during the week and have a binge-fest on the weekend, allow yourself to relax those strict standards during the week. If you go to an event where you want to count calories (and eat whatever has the lowest number), experiment with allowing yourself to have what you truly want.
3. Remember that calories aren't all equal.
If you had 250 calories of Doritos and 250 calories of avocado, which do you think is better for your body? Exactly. The avocado. If you're counting calories, you may think “but there's fat in avocado and a lot of calories”. And you may be right.
But…avocado is fantastic for your body. It's loaded with healthy fats (enhances hearth health), potassium (supports healthy blood pressure), fiber (good for digestion), ad has tons of other benefits. The Doritos have zero nutritional value.
So, not all calories are created equally. Your body will recognize and treat them differently. Your body doesn't just digest calories…it digests the minerals, proteins, fats and vitamins along with what you're eating. And if you're eating a 350 calorie frozen dinner vs a 600 calorie dinner of grilled chicken, sauteed carrots, and rice…the second option just may be the better choice.
So the next time you're itchin' to count the calories in your food, which one of these tips can you employ? Comment below and let me know which one resonates with you!