I'm guilty: I used to diligently track my nutrition intake each day. I would be ecstatic when my day's calorie total hit my exact projected calorie goal. Today, however, I have been 'calorie count free' for more than two years … and I will never go back. Here are three reasons why.
Calorie Counting Led to Poor Choices
I would routinely opt for low-calorie foods and foods that had a nutrition label instead of nutrient-dense, filling foods. For example, I would be more likely to eat a packaged nutrition bar instead of making my own because I knew exactly how many calories I was consuming with the packaged variety. Or, I would eat powdered peanut butter instead of real peanut butter to "save" calories. Now, instead of thinking about calories, I look at food and think, "Will this fill me up?" and, "Will this make me feel good?" If it won't — even if it's "low-calorie" — I am unlikely to eat it.
I Got a Food Scale
With this purchase, I started to really understand portion sizes, instead of simply logging foods into a calorie-counter and thinking I was eating a set amount. This was huge "aha" moment for me. With a food scale, I realized I was overeating nut butters and undereating carbohydrate-rich foods. I would log "2 tablespoons of peanut butter" into my counter, when, in reality, I was eating closer to ¼ cup! I would log "½ cup quinoa," when, in reality, it was closer to ¼ cup. But my food scale changed that. Now that I know the truth about portion sizes and changed my mindset about "good" and "bad" foods, I've found that all foods can fit into my diet because I keep them in the correct portion.
Counting Calories Doesn't Really Work for Me
Do you truly think you use the same amount of energy and burn the same amount of calories every day? I don't. Instead, I may need more calories on some days and less on others, and having an app tell me how many calories I need just seems wrong.
Today, I truly don't care about the amount of calories in my meals. Instead, I care whether I am getting good sources of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat. Not worrying about calories can be scary. Heck, I logged my nutrition intake for about four years before I stopped! What have I learned from not calorie counting? How to make all foods fit, how to listen to my body and how to understand nutrients instead of calories. And, you know what? I am never going back.