Calorie counting is like an addiction. I started counting calories with the best intentions – to improve my health. But this soon turned into an addiction. An addiction to needing 100% control over everything I put in my body and if I didn’t know the calories in something, I wouldn’t eat it. I stopped seeing food as food basically, and it became a number. A very, very scary number.
I downloaded MyFitnessPal to track and log everything I ate, weighing everything down to the last gram. Soon my thoughts became consumed with this calorie counting addiction and it started to take over my life. From the second I woke up to the second I went to sleep, food and numbers were all that was on my mind. Eating out became a nightmare. I would only go to places that displayed the calories of each item on the menu and when that wasn’t possible, my anxiety would sky rocket and I would just choose what I perceived as the most ‘low calorie’ option on the menu.
I was completely consumed by this obsessive addiction for over 2 years. And it was absolutely exhausting. If you know me or have read my blog before, you would know that I’m a total foodie, I freaking love food! I always have and I always will. But in these 2 years food became the enemy and I don’t ever recall feeling as miserable as I did when I was calorie counting. There were so many instances where I wanted to stop and put an end to this addiction, but MyFitnessPal would constantly suck me back in and perfectionist personality and need for 100% control would take over again.
Calorie counting isn’t sustainable and I’m so grateful I havenow seen the error in my ways and broken free of this addiction. It definitely wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but it was 100% worth every struggle. I now eat intuitively; I’ve learnt to tune back into my body’s hunger signals and eat when I’m hungry; I eat foods I enjoy rather than low calorie alternatives; and most importantly, I no longer fear food – I see meal time as a chance to fuel and nourish my body to feel its absolute best!
So how did I do it?
Like I said, it wasn’t easy, it was something I had to work at for MONTHS AND MONTHS but its worth it. So here’s the basics of what I did…
- Start slowly, because going cold turkey after 2 years of calorie counting would have just been too much of an anxiety trigger. I’m still a perfection and type A personality, so I needed to sloooowly release the control and comfort counting calories gave me. Over the course of a month, I started easing up on my tracking, one meal at a time – first I stopped tracking dinner, and than lunch and than snacks and eventually I got out of the habit of relying on it everyday. Only then did I delete MyFitnessPal.
- I acknowledged that I had learnt so much from my 2 years of calorie counting so I could trust myself to make informed decisions with my meals. I pretty much knew the calories of all the foods and ingredients I eat daily so I could somewhat calculate them in my head, so at the start this was comforting. I just had to trust that I wouldn’t lose control and gain weight just because I wasn’t calorie counting anymore.
- I trusted my body knew how to metabolise and digest the food I was putting in it. That’s its job and it knows how to do it! The human body is an amazing thing! I eat a diet made up of healthy, wholefoods – so why should I stress about what I’m putting in my body when I know the ingredients are good for me and will nourish my body? The body doesn’t see food as calories and numbers, it sees it as nutrients and that’s how I changed my view to see food.
- I learnt how to build a balanced meal – without needing to calculate calories to do so. I have the JSHealth Programto thank for this. In the 8 Week Program you learn how to build a balanced meal and correct portion sizes; all without needing to weigh or calculate anything. At each meal, I would build my meal like this: 1/2 plate of greens and veggies, 1/4 plate protein measured out by the size of your palm (no scales needed!), 1/4 plate of good carbs (think sweet potato, pumpkin, brown rice, quinoa etc.) and 1-2 tbsp of good fats (e.g. tahini, avocado, olive oil, feta cheese). I built my meals as per these guidelines and found it so freeing and liberating not needing to weigh every ingredient; just trusting my intuition.
- I made eating a social occasion! I am a foodie after all, ha! But I just started to embrace going out and socialising with friends over brunches, lunch and dinners again, no more hiding away because I don’t have control over the food. When you’re so busy enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones, the last thing on your mind is the food you’re eating. I loved making it an adventure and choosing new places to try – of course ones with healthy options that cater to my wholefoods lifestyle, because that’s the food I love and crave!
- Most importantly, I relieved the pressure to do everything ‘perfectly’. Perfection DOES NOT exist. Striving towards a ‘perfect’ diet and the ‘perfect’ number of calories each day just wasn’t possible. All it did was cause me stress, anxiety and sadness. I wanted to adopt a more sustainable and maintainable way of living, and counting calories just didn’t fit into that.
So those are the basics to how I overcame the detrimental addiction and obsession of counting calories. And I can honestly say, I’ve never felt more free and at peace with food. I learnt a lot from my mistakes and now I’m able to live a happy, healthy, balanced and maintainable lifestyle – free from those awful numbers! And just a little reminder that food is nutrients, not numbers ♥
Be sure to join me over on Instagram (@eb.fiitness) for daily motivation, recipes and fitness tips! And if you want to hear more about my journey, be sure to let me know in the comments xxx