Why you’re wasting your time and energy counting calories
Why you’re wasting your time and energy by counting calories when trying to achieve your health and wellness goals
(and by tracking any other numbers related to food or nutrients)
Are you apart of the calorie counting crew? Do you find yourself tracking every morsel of food that touches your lips? Are you an avid MyFitnessPal user? Then this post is just for you.
I’m going to get right to the point - yes, you really are wasting your time with this garbage! Think about all of the actual minutes you put into counting calories and tracking them through an app. Let’s say it takes you 10 minutes per meal, and you eat 4-5 times a day. That’s 40-50 minutes a day. 40-50 minutes means 4 and a half to 6 hours a week you spend on counting calories (and/or tracking macros). Not only is this little habit taking up time you could be spending elsewhere but, what are you actually gaining from this? Honestly, have you thought about it in a while? Ever? Has it done anything positive for you?
I want to be straightforward - I know that this coming from a Dietitian might sound shocking for many of you. Or at least shocking for those who think Dietitians only care about helping patients or clients lose weight. And let’s face it, “losing weight” entails the “normal” behaviors like - you guessed it - counting and/or cutting calories, tracking macros, eating less, cutting out foods or foods groups…. Wrong wrong wrong wrong. It’s just all wrong.
We are so consumed in this #dietculture where these “dieting” behaviors have become the norm for us. For some reason it’s totally normal to count calories and track them through an app. Has anyone stopped to think for a second, maybe this is absolutely absurd??? We complain about not having enough time in the day to do x, y, and z yet we have the time to count calories and macros!? WHAT!?
Think about those people who live in the Blue Zones (those regions that contain the healthiest humans on the Earth) – these people engage in certain health behaviors almost instinctively. Do you think they’re counting calories through an app? Ha! Do you think they are concerned about getting just the right carb-pro-fat ratio? Double ha!
None of these behaviors are ever going to teach you good nutrition. Counting your calories does not teach you how to eat a balanced diet and how to make any tweaks to your lifestyle so that you can reach your goals and prevent or treat disease. There are other amazing approaches out there that have the ability to enhance your health and genuinely move your life in the right direction.
Yes – credible and sound nutrition education and information can be essential to eating a healthier diet and reaching many of your goals, whatever they may be. Sometimes this involves knowing which foods are generally higher in calories or fat than others. Sometimes this means knowing which foods contain protein, healthy fats, fiber, etc. Education (from a nutrition professional – not a random google article, ahem) can be so important.
But at the end of the day we instinctively know that whole foods (foods grown from the earth and that are minimally processed) are the best for us, whether its because they tend to be the lowest in calories, free from man-made junk or added chemicals, yet contain the most nutrition calorie per calorie. No one argues with this logic. Figuring out how to add these foods into our diet can be tricky because of the availability of CRAP food and when all of our friends and family are also caught up in destructive dietary behaviors. But counting calories and tracking macros are not going to point you in the right direction. Take the time you’ve spent into tracking numbers and start making real changes in your life.