- Alyssa Abrahamson
Why Counting Calories Is BS
The first time I went on a “diet” I was in 5th grade.
I remember sitting in the lunchroom, sharing my low-calorie weight loss meal plan with my classmates. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only girl who was counting calories, hoping to lose weight.
I was 11 years old. Did I need to lose weight? Absolutely not.
Fast forward to my 20's when diet coke and lite yogurt were a part of my diet. I began to realize how these “diet foods” were affecting my mental health. I was ready to heal my relationship with food and made the decision to eliminate them.
So instead, I started drinking regular coke and ate full-fat yogurt. Making that switch was the beginning of helping me shift my thoughts away from restriction and calorie counting. And, I overcame my aspartame addiction.
Recently, a friend told me she wanted to lose weight and mentioned that it’s all about “calories in calories out.” This opinion is understandable because for years we've been taught the CICO diet model, which solely focuses on how many calories are consumed and how many are metabolized through exercise.
However, the idea that calories are the most important part of our diet is wrong. The “calories in calories out” diet is based on the outdated and scientifically disproven idea that all calories are created equal. It fails to take into account how different calories sources have vastly different and varying effects on blood sugar and insulin levels, digestion, gut health, and hunger hormones.
Where your health is concerned, it’s more important to consider the types of food you eat and the quality of your food rather than be concerned about calories.
But diet and nutrition can be complicated, leaving us confused and searching for easy answers and quick fixes.
Sure, counting calories can give us a sense of control. Yes, calories play a role in health and weight and counting calories might work as a short term fix, but in reality it’s not sustainable or practical.
Over time, counting calories can mess with our mental health and wellbeing, contributing to food obsession and overwhelm, guilt and stress because it puts us in a restrictive diet mentality, which can lead to feeling deprived and this can lead to binge eating or obsessive thoughts and unhealthy.
Plus, fixating on calories keeps us out of touch with our body. It keeps us disconnected from our actual hunger, and prevents a genuine relationship with food. When you’re preoccupied with counting calories you’re detached from your body’s internal cues of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
So forget the calories, counting them is BS.
Instead here are 4 tips for incorporating healthier eating into your life and cultivating a more sustainable, supportive relationship with food
1. Cook and at home using quality wholesome real foods. Check out podcast episode 62, Stuck in a Food Rut? How to Uplevel Your Health (and Life!) With Food Diversity
2. Stay away from processed foods containing artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils and emulsifiers. These foods can drive your body to consume more, they cause inflammation, and weight gain.
3. Think about how what you eat makes you feel. Is the food really satisfying? Does what you’re eating keep you feeling full or does it leave you wanting to snack after an hour? Does it give you sustained energy or do you have an energy crash? Listen to podcast episode 25, Becoming Friends with Food
4. Let go of judgment and practice tuning into your body’s needs. Trust yourself and your body to know what foods are healing, beneficial and nutritious for you.
When you shift your mindset around food and develop a peaceful, and nurturing relationship with yourself, your body naturally becomes more balanced and you observe a shift in your mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing.
Over time, I’ve taught myself to create a harmonious relationship with food and with my body and I can help you with that too.
If you're looking for guidance and support, let’s talk. Email me to set up a call.
Love, Your Wellness Coach,
P.S. For more, tune into podcast episode 81, “Why Counting Calories Is BS.”
July 13, 2022