I’ve tried counting calories in the past. I always felt super optimistic as I entered my information into the app and it magically calculated the “appropriate” amount of calories that I need to eat every day. I would start strong for a few days or even weeks, and it would be great… until it’s not.
Just like any other diet, it would eventually lose the appeal of its newness. I was not good at being consistent with tracking all of my food every day; in fact, if I knew that I went over my calories that day, I simply wouldn’t bother tracking them because I didn’t want to see the judgmental red line telling me I ate too much. I would not only stop counting calories, but I would go on a world class binge to make up for lost time. I think this is a lesson many people need to learn for themselves, but I have come to a point where I firmly believe that no good will ever come from me counting calories (or points or macros or blocks or whatever you want to call them to pretend you’re not counting calories).
There are a few reasons this doesn’t work for me (and many other people):
- All calories are not equal. Say it with me now… ALL CALORIES ARE NOT EQUAL. You simply cannot live a healthful life by only counting calories. The number of calories may be the same between an apple and a small piece of chocolate, but your body is not going to digest and metabolize those calories in the same way. And yes, I know that to do it right, you should be choosing “healthy” foods, but let’s not kid ourselves by saying that’s what everyone does when they count calories.
- If I get to the end of my day and I have 100 calories left over, you better believe that I’m going to eat that piece of chocolate regardless of whether or not I really want it, because my calorie counter told me that I can. The human body is constantly using and storing energy at different levels, so it’s going to require different amounts of calories on different days. Assigning yourself an arbitrary number of calories to consume forces you to stop trusting your body’s ability to regulate itself.
- How does that app actually know how many calories I need? Yes, I know that there’s an algorithm and body mass index and math or whatever, but each person is a unique, bio-individual being, which means we all require different amounts and types of energy to be able to thrive. Show me the app that can account for my body’s own unique needs, and I’d happily give it a try.
- It’s a slippery slope to disorders eating. Counting calories made me obsessive. I would try to eat as few calories as I could during the day because I’d be afraid of running out, and what if I got hungry?? I would end up starving myself for the sake of staying under that calorie count. By the way, this behavior doesn’t go away when you decide to stop counting. It sticks with you long after you end your diet, and really all that does is make you feel guilty for no reason.
- Severe calorie restriction can actually prevent you from losing weight. Really, look it up. When you significantly restrict your calories, your body thinks that food is scarce, so it protects itself by trying to hold on to as much stored energy as it can. Basically, your body doesn’t know the difference between a famine and a fad diet.
So, the moral of this story? If you’re currently counting your calories and you feel good in your skin, you do you, boo. But if you feel unhappy or frustrated, if you’re torturing yourself by turning down cookies because an app tells you to, or you feel bad every time that app tells you that you ate too many calories, then this is me officially giving you permission to STOP. Delete your app and just eat the dang cookie. I promise it won’t kill you.
If you have questions or need some resources to help you get off the diet train, leave a comment or send me a message. I’d love to chat.