Counting calories is not a productive use of your time – you have much better things to do. Read a book, go for a walk, spend quality time with your family, or simply relax – something that seems to be a lost art!
I used to drive myself crazy counting calories (and points). I finally learned how to eat without worrying about calories. Here are five things I wish someone had told me:
I used to think that as long as I stayed under my daily limit of what I was “allowed” I was a superstar. I’d go all week limiting and restricting my calories (or whatever I was counting at the time) then splurge because I felt like I had “earned it”.
I also used to eat my daily allotment at one meal (so I could get my weekly hit of special sauce) then practically starve myself the rest of the day. I rarely ate vegetables, and if I did they were in the form of french fries and a little bit of lettuce on my hamburger.
I definitely wasn’t making the right choices and my health suffered as a result, which is why I had to have my gall bladder removed before I turned 30.
I used to eat low-fat and fat-free cookies, cakes, yogurt, etc. because I thought they were better for me. I couldn’t understand why I always felt so hungry.
Then I learned that our bodies have specific nutrient requirements (shocking right?). If we don’t eat properly, we will feel hungrier because our brains will send signals to eat more in an attempt to get the nutrition we need.
If you’re focusing on calorie consumption instead of nutrition, you may not be making the best choices as to how you fuel your body.
Leave those 100-calorie “snack packs” in the store. They may be low-calorie, but there is ZERO nutritional value in them.
Food and the act of eating is meant to be enjoyed. If you’re worried about whether or not you have room left in your daily “budget”, you are less likely to enjoy eating.
If you do decide to indulge, you feel guilty for going over your limit. I used to tell myself that I’d make up for it tomorrow, or start over again on Monday.
When we associate food with our feelings, it starts to have power over us. Depriving ourselves of what we want only causes us to want it more.
Stress is meant to be a short-term reaction that dissipates when the threat (real or perceived) is gone.
I started eating junk food in secret. I would hide it in my dresser drawers and sneak it when no one would see me, then hide the wrappers in the garbage or put them in my purse to throw away at work or elsewhere.
I must have thought that it wouldn’t count if no one saw me eat it, but I honestly can’t remember what was going through my mind at the time.
Eventually I was able to ditch the junk food. Click here to get my junk food cleanse cheat sheet.
I used to use a popular app to track my food and fitness. I would plan my meals for the week, but then I would spend HOURS trying to balance to what I thought were the right ratios of protein, carbs & fat while making sure I stayed within my calorie range.
I would eat even if I wasn’t hungry to “get it right”.
My hubby eventually noticed what I was doing (because I would be using the app on my phone while we were watching a show together) and said I was spending more time worrying about food than anything else. But, I didn’t realize how much of a problem it had become.
We should only eat when we’re hungry – not starving, but just starting to feel hunger coming on. Then we should stop eating once we no longer feel hungry.
If we wait until we feel full to stop, we’ve eaten too much at that meal. Over-eating can cause digestive problems because there’s not enough room in your stomach for proper digestion to occur.
Also, If you’re worried about how many calories you’re eating, you may not be eating enough, especially healthy fats. Healthy fats are more satiating (meaning we feel fuller longer) and take longer to digest. For more info on healthy fat and why it’s important, click here to read my blog post on why you should be eating more fat.
Instead of focusing on calories, focus on the nutrition you're getting from your food. Eating real, whole food (or as minimally processed as possible) is the best thing you can do for yourself and your health. I've not only achieved a healthy weight for me that's pretty easy to maintain, but I'm in the best shape of my life...not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well.
Keeping a food diary is a great way to keep an eye on your food intake and I highly recommend it to my clients. I write down everything I eat every day and it helps when I notice certain symptoms pop up so I can look back to see what I’ve eaten in the last few days. My food diary does double duty as I also use it for meal planning.
Use the time you save from counting calories to care for yourself. Self-care is so undervalued, but it’s been an important aspect of my recovery from the unhealthy habits that made me fat, sick, stressed and depressed for over three decades.
Make time for you and things you enjoy and never take your health for granted.