Ever found yourself counting calories, carbs, fats, or points? Well, it's time to give yourself a break.
Here's the deal: counting calories is a common habit and can be a great tool for getting started when it comes to losing weight. But in the long term, it's just not practical. And it can actually be doing more harm than good.
When we count our food, it can create anxiety and pressure and morph into bad habits. You know what's not good for self-esteem? The feeling of failure when we "overeat" because we've gone above a certain number of calories or points. Ironically, this can often trigger the need to self-soothe through food. A vicious cycle, right?
It can make you too obsessed with a number and take your focus away from what true health is: awareness of how you're nourishing yourself. Therefore, here are three reasons it's time to stop counting food.
1. It doesn't work.
Counting focuses mostly on calories in versus calories burned to create a deficit that will lead to weight loss. In truth, losing weight is about much, much more. When you count calories, the math is simple: A-B=C. But your body is more complex than simple arithmetic. In addition to basic adding and subtracting, there are variables and factors that need to be considered. Stress, hormones, food allergies, intolerances and many other factors contribute to our personal ability to lose weight.
2. It incentivizes you to make unhealthy choices.
In the search for "skinny" over healthy, we often look for items that are low in calories but pay no attention to actual ingredients. For something to be made calorie-, fat- and sugar-free, it's often totally devoid of natural ingredients. Instead, it's full of processed ingredients and chemicals that can lead to poor nutrition, irritated digestive system and bloating.
3. It can lead to a seriously unhealthy relationship with food.
Counting calories, points, or even portions can trigger many people with eating disorders or even cause people to develop them. When you see a low number on your range of points or calories for the day, you may be tempted to keep it at the lowest point or to shoot for even lower. The need to be better, to win, to be perfect often transfers into eating/drinking the lowest amount of calories possible and seeing the number on the scale drop. It's a scary thing, but happens often.
True health and happiness doesn't have to be confined to a strict regime. To truly get healthy and start enjoying life, try these actions instead:
1. Forget about counting.
Instead of counting your food, focus on how the food you're eating makes you feel. If you're bloated, cranky or get indigestion, that food might not be ideal for you. When you focus on how you feel physically after you eat, you'll automatically start to make healthier choices without feeling guilty or stressed.
2. Focus on what inspires you to feel good without dwelling on your appearance.
By no means does skinny = healthy. Because the term can be used as a compliment or insult, it can have the negative effect of making you wonder, "Am I not worth more than my body weight?" Instead of "skinny," strive to be happy, healthy and whole. Use a daily mantra that inspires you but doesn't dwell specifically on your appearance. Try saying, "I am strong, I am powerful, I can do this".
3. Be nice to yourself.
When you count your calories, you often end up judging yourself for eating something worth too much of your daily allotment. This can cause stress and guilt, but it can also lead to a binge later on. Instead, drop the judgment and allow an indulgence once in awhile. With less stress and guilt, you're less likely to binge or gain weight, and more likely to feel healthy for longer.
4. Learn to nourish your body.
Nourishing your body means eating foods that give you energy and make you feel good. Instead of obsessing over what you can't eat, focus on what you can. Add in more whole, unprocessed foods in their natural state. Go for quality when you splurge: good wine and great chocolate. When you do this, you'll feel more alive and vibrant, and more likely to stick with healthy choices.