As an intuitive eating coach and RD-to-be, I help women stop obsessing about food. Often, the first step figuring out how to stop counting calories.
For many people, that’s harder than it sounds! Right now, maybe you’re thinking:
“Christine, I know how many calories are in everything, I don’t know how to get that information out of my head!”
“I’ve tried to stop calorie counting before, but my brain just does it automatically.”
You might even be thinking…
“I want to stop calorie counting, but I’m worried that I’ll start bingeing or eating way too much if I do!”
No matter what your worries and fears, know that you’re not alone.
While calorie counting isn’t natural or necessary (more on that tomorrow!), it’s totally normalized in our culture. There are calorie counting apps encouraging you to obsess over everything you eat. There are endless articles detailing how many calories are in various foods and fast food meals. (I admit, I wrote some of these articles before I knew better.) And, there’s so much emphasis on always eating the “right” amount, being regimented and disciplined about your food intake, and sticking to a certain portion size.
The thing is, calorie counting doesn’t work. And, it takes a mental and emotional toll.
I probably don’t have to sell you on this. If you’re here, it’s because you know that strict dieting and calorie counting doesn’t work, and you’ve experienced firsthand the toll it takes. You’re wondering how to stop obsessing over calories, and you don’t quite have the answer.
First, let’s talk about why calorie counting doesn’t work
1. Your body literally changes the way it operates in order to conserve calories. It gets more “efficient,” which means it learns to do the same things while burning fewer calories. And, it tries to prevent fat oxidation (burning fat for energy) at all costs.
2. Your hormones shift to make you hungrier. Yup! When you eat fewer calories than your body needs for a long period of time (and therefore lose weight), your body produces less of the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin) and more of the hormone that makes you feel hungry (ghrelin). So, you’ll feel hungrier all the time, and it’ll be harder and harder to stick to whatever number of calories you’re trying to stick to.
3. You start obsessing over food. Studies have shown that restricting calories or being on any type of restrictive diet makes people think about food far more often. You might even feel addicted to counting calories.
If you find yourself always thinking about/planning your next meal, or even dreaming of food, it’s not because there’s something inherently wrong with you — it’s because you’re restricting food. (I explain more about that in this post about the binge-restrict cycle.)
It’s tough to stop counting calories, but it’s possible!
Even if you know why counting calories doesn’t work, it can be tough to stop. It’s totally normal to wonder if it’s even possible to get all that calorie info out of your head.
It is possible. It’ll take a while to empty your head of all of the calorie counts you’ve memorized over the years, and to break the habit of mentally adding up your plate before you eat it.
Honestly, quitting your calorie counting habit will take some work. And, it will take longer than 7 days. But if you’re wondering how to stop obsessing over calories, this challenge will provide a foundation and a roadmap for that journey.
Every day for 7 days, I’ll send you a journal prompt and a quick activity.
The activity might only take a second, or it might be something that you can weave seamlessly in your day. The journal prompt will make you reflect on your current way of thinking and figure out a way forward.
It’s totally free!
We’ll talk about why diets don’t work, how intuitive eating can improve your life, and how you can make progress towards a healthier relationship with food.
And, while I won’t be able to give you any 1:1 advice during the challenge, you can always feel free to respond to the emails with a question.