No, I won’t say it’s possible to just STOP counting calories overnight. Or even after many years. It’s like telling ourselves to forget how to do long division. Or how to spell. Calorie counting becomes a deeply instilled “knowledge,” especially after using it year after year to maintain a sense of control over your food intake.
It’s not possible just to “un-learn” counting, just like it’s not possible to un-learn who the first president of the United States was. So, instead, let’s try some other things to at least take the focus off of it.
Side note: this post is for those who WANT to lessen the focus on calorie counting. I’ve certainly known and worked with some people who really benefit from calorie counting, especially those who’s goal IS weight loss. My parents for example really DID need to lose some weight to live a healthier lifestyle. So, they both started to count calories. Both no longer suffer from high blood pressure, and my dad is no longer diabetic. It’s pretty amazing what calorie counting CAN do for individuals who are in the mindset where it does not become obsessive.
This post is for individuals who feel “slave” to calculating their daily calories and for those who want to reach a sense of food freedom. If you calorie count in a way that isn’t all-consuming AND helps you reach your goals, then great! What works for one person, may not work for another, and that’s okay. Keep doing what works for YOU.
Delete calorie counting apps
Get rid of ANY and ALL applications that encourage you to plug in the food you’re eating if you want to lessen the focus on calorie counting. These can become obsessive very quickly, as we find ourselves inputting literally every single food we’re nourishing our bodies with throughout the day (down to that extra m&m we had at work). Will it be uncomfortable as heck at first? Yeah, of course. No progress was ever made if we were completely comfortable while doing so.
Sit with that discomfort. I swear it won’t last forever. And the payoff of it is MORE than just food freedom and less calorie obsessing. Imagine sitting with your loved ones, PRESENT at a meal, versus wondering when you’ll get a chance to input the food you just ate into your calorie counting app. Your days aren’t meant to be lived according to the calories in your food. There’s more that life offers that your calorie counting app will never fully give you.
Try new recipes!
Alright, so I know what you’re thinking. “But I can easily add up the calories in the recipe.” Yeah, I can too. I get it. Again, that information doesn’t just erase from our brains overnight, or at all. What we CAN do, however, is choose to still make the recipe according to EVERYTHING that it calls for. What we can do is make the recipe EXACTLY as it’s written, without making any ingredient swaps. Regardless of whether it “goes over” what we perceive to be an “acceptable” calorie amount.
My other tip? Try to avoid sites that list the nutritional information for the recipe. In the society we live in, nutritional information tends to be posted everywhere. This doesn’t make it easy to avoid. But, I promise you that there ARE still sites that exist that just provide you with bomb-ass recipes that DON’T list the calorie counts. Instead, they’re just created to nourish your body with wholesome ingredients. And personally (to me), that matters so much more.
Have your loved one/friends prepare you something
Give over control! Relinquish it completely! Ask your loved one or roommate or family member to cook for ya. Also, before you start thinking it: NO THIS ISN’T SELFISH. Doing something for your health is never, never selfish or greedy. My guess is that your loved one will WANT to help you focus less on calories and focus more on overall health and wellness.
Ask them to prepare you something without hovering over them as they prepare it, or asking them what ingredients they used. The emphasis becomes on the meal you two shared together, and appreciating something kind that your loved one did for you (and with you). As I always say, memories matter more than calories.
Switch the mindset
We weren’t born with the perception that calories were meant to be obsessed over. This was something we LEARNED. Which also means we can “un-learn” this thinking pattern if it isn’t effective for us. Calories themselves aren’t the “devil,” rather it’s how we view them that is. What would life be like if we focused on respecting our bodies by giving it nourishing food? What would our days look like if we decided to focus on listening to our hunger (and honoring it), versus first making sure we didn’t go “over” our caloric intake for the day?
Of course, weight maintenance from a scientific and biological sense means that we aren’t consistently going over our maintenance number of calories. This is fact. This is stuff that I can’t debate and say calories don’t matter at ALL. Of course calories matter when it comes to maintaining our weight.
However, what matters more is the relationship we have WITH those calories. How we view the calories we’re consuming. If we’re sitting there in a pool of guilt or disappointment in ourselves, my guess is that the mindset we have surrounding calories has become an unhealthy one. Building a healthy relationship with calories and with food requires us to view food as fuel, as nourishment, and something we can use to respect our body’s needs.