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Counting Calories

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I have always counted calories. I can tell you how many calories are in any food you can think of (as long as i’ve heard of it).  I’ve memorized the serving and portion sizes on every food label and am well aware of the calories in hundreds of dishes at hundreds of restaurants. I am familiar with every calorie counting site that’s out there and have compared food between all the sites. I never intended to memorize how many calories were in everything, but after obsessing over it for so long, it just happened. I became my own calorie directory.

Anytime I ate anything I would either write down exactly what I had eaten portion size and all or I’d leave a running total in my head, which would eventually get written down, I have notebook after note book tracking my daily intake. It wasn’t odd to find sticky notes around the house with random numbers that would eventually be added into the daily total.  Every bite, every sip, every crunch…I counted.  Oh the insanity. Oh the burden. Oh the responsiblity.  It was a chore. I’ve counted calories for so long that I don’t know how to not count them.

Over the past 10 months I  have tried to stop counting calories and measure or count every single thing I put in my mouth and I have gotten so much better. But still almost everyday I end up calculating calories. Sometimes its at the end of the day or sometimes its in the middle. I’ll leave a running total in my head or jot it on a piece of paper…its not that I’m trying to stay below a certain number of calories like I have done in the past. I think it has something to do with me worrying I might be eating too much or even too little, or maybe I just don’t remember how to eat without counting.

I’m not quite sure how to kick this habit, and I’d love any ideas, suggestions, or personal triumphs.  I try to eat when my body is hungry and choose foods that are healthy and nutritious, but I’ve still not been able to let go of the counting completely.  It is no longer an obsession but a small reminder or my past and something i’d like to eliminate completely.  I know that many of you have been in similar situations and have found success, or maybe you have never even counted calories and are “normal” eater…either way I’d love some suggestions and a helping hand.

Here are a few questions:

Do you count calories?
(if yes, is it an obsession or is it helpful and positive)
 (if no, have you ever in the past and was it a positive experience )

If you don’t count calories how do you keep track of what you eaten on a daily basis?

Have you or are you currently losing weight without counting calories?

What do you think about calorie counting?

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  1. September 23, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I feel like I can really relate to this – I used to be obsessed with calories and portion sizes too because I thought that was the key to being healthy! It was really the “diet food” mentality – 100 calorie packs and artificial sweeteners…these foods would trick me into thinking i was making a smart choice but I’d still be starving and end up needing to eat something else, and never feeling good.
    It wasn’t until it finally clicked that not all calories are created equal that I finally gave myself a bit of a break. By switching to more unprocessed, whole foods I found I didn’t obsess over every single calorie because 1) I knew I was eating food that was nourishing me and 2) they were FILLING me (it’s pretty much impossible to overeat vegetables). The body responds differently to healthy vs. unhealthy fats, starches etc…
    I admit, I still do have calories on the brain (I’m not sure it will ever go away) but at least now I don’t get really down on myself if I have a high calorie day as long as I know the calories came from good sources.

    Anyways, great blog, added to my reader :)

    • September 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

      your right about the 100 calorie snack packs at other things like that. i have learned that those are not “real” calories and will leave you feeling hungry too. I do need to try to eat less processed food, I think you are right, I will feel more full. I think I have a hard time getting ideas of what types of foods to eat and how to cook with them. I need to continue to read more blogs and learn more about food and preparing it! Thanks so much for the comment!

  2. September 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Do you count calories? Sometimes in my head, but not everyday or every meal.

    If you don’t count calories how do you keep track of what you eaten on a daily basis? I blog :) I try to eat balanced meals and have healthy snacks and hope it all works out and balances out in the end.

    Have you or are you currently losing weight without counting calories? I actually have been maintaining my weight for 4 years, but I lost it on Weight Watchers, so I constantly have points running through my head instead of calories. Same premise, though.

    What do you think about calorie counting? I think it’s a great way to see where you are, what you need more of, and a good basis on how to judge what you actually need during the day. But it would drive me crazy doing it all day long.

  3. September 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    ooh that’s a tough one! i think calorie counting can be important when you are trying to understand portion sizes, or which foods are low calorie, high density. but it seems like you are wayyy past that point. honestly, it’s a hard thing to do but if you can make yourself stop tallying, that’s probably a good thing. especially if you are already making healthy choices, i think that obsessing just naturally leads to guilt. at least, it always does in my case!!!!!!

    sorry to tell you that there is no secret to the eggplant…it’s boxed from Trader Joe’s! but oh so good i definitely recommend it!!!

  4. September 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    thank you for commenting on my blog! i can’t wait to read more of yours :) i really enjoyed reading your about me!

  5. megzzwinsatlife
    September 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I still count calories.. :-( I know it is a bad habit but I can completely relate to what you are talking about..

  6. Trevor & Erin Keyes
    September 23, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    No calorie counting for me….just another silly number! However, I pretty much know how many calories are in everything (thanks to high school) but I don’t really care. I try to eat regular portions. I try to “Fuel” instead of “Feed” my body and minimize the sweets! I try to get protein after my workouts which will give me calories too. If you are balanced with veggies, grains, proteins, fiber etc. and not overeating…then your calories will be intact! It is the same mentality with not looking at the scale anymore…good luck with setting your calorie counting ways free!!!

  7. Sister
    September 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I think about the calories but I try not to count them. I try to just eat healthy too. But where I am trying to loose weight right now I probably should count because I am sure I am eating too many calories. But I am hesitant to do it because when I do count I get obssesive and I eat more than I would in the first place. And then when I go over my number I feel bad and want to quit. I need to just eat healthy and like Erin said fuel my body not feed it.

  8. September 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I counted calories to lose weight – it was the only time I was truly successful and allowed me to reach my healthy weight. It was tedious and while I didn’t mind it during that time (about 2 months) because it totally worked, I’m not sure I can go back there again.

    I’m only just beginning to poke around your blog. Have you read Intuitive Eating? Forgive me if you’ve written that you have. It got me out of a rough period after I’d lost the weight and was struggling to maintain.

    I no longer count calories and no longer worry about how much I eat during the day. I know when I’m eating the right foods and if I eat until I feel content and don’t deprive myself of occasional treats it’s all good.

  9. Menden (Skinny Menny)
    September 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve never been a consistent calorie counter, but every few weeks or so, I’ll take a little time to check a typical day’s calories, just to see if I’m on track! And 9 times out of 10, I’ve found that as long as I’m making reasonably healthy food choices, my calories are usually right where I guess they should be. I don’t really have good advice for ya, but maybe try that for a little while, and see if it helps you get your mind off of it on a day-to-day basis! :)

  10. September 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    ooo that totally used to be me. What i did was start by just counting at the end of the day- dont keep track during and then try and recall everything. Usually what would happen was i couldnt remember everything i had so i knew it wasnt accurate and eventually didnt see the point anymore. I also started focusing on the quality of my food as opposed to the quantity. start trying to hit all your food groups- it will give you something a little less obsessive to pay attention to, and you know you are eating healthy so you wont get so nervous about the calorie part

    • September 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      This is such a great great idea. I am doing it today. I have already gone to count up the calories a BUNCH of times today, but i’ve stopped and I am going to wait until the end of the day and see where i’m at. I’m sure this will help me build confidence because if i’m in the right range it will make me feel better about not counting. anyhow, thank you so much for the suggestion…i’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow! :)

  11. September 24, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Natalie! You didn’t mention that you wrote about a similar topic (obsessing over counting) earlier in the day before I posted mine!! That is so funny that we both decided to touch on this topic without knowing it!! I love your blog and most of all love the honesty that is pouring through your words. Thanks for visiting mine and I will be returning to your’s.

    As for suggestions, maybe just try what I talked about… just mentally count for awhile and get away from putting it down on paper. You don’t want to live writing down everything for the rest of your life. I did it for 3 years though so I know how very, very difficult it is to stop. But once you do, you will be so free and guess what… you will not start gaining weight. I PROMISE! The only reason I gained weight was because I went on prednisone and physically couldn’t help the initial weight gain and then kind of gave up on myself and had the bad attitude of “oh well, I’ve already gained some, might as well eat whatever I want.” As long as you continue with your healthy lifestyle, not counting calories will not put any weight on you. Let us know how things go! :)

    • September 24, 2009 at 5:12 pm

      Too funny..great minds think alike! That is exactly what I am going to do and have done today. I havent wrote anything down yet. I plan on adding them up at the end of the day. I really think this will help me realize that I am making good choices and I don’t have to write everything down. Thanks for your support and uplifting comments!!

  12. October 12, 2009 at 7:17 am

    I counted just like you, on post its, in my planner during class, in my notebook, on random pages… It was totally related to my eating disorder for the most part.

    Now? A big part that helped me was blogging- I transferred the unhealthy behvaior to my blog, where I could see (physically) what I ate and write about it (emotionally)- so yippee for blogging. What also made me stop doing it for myself is having to do it in class for case studies! I know its odd, since I didn’t stop all together, but transferring the focus to what I was interested in (nutrition) into a healthier outlet has helped because I “know” what I’m doing when we have assignments in medical nutrition therapy to analzye/create diet for a 134 lb 55 yr old women with diabetes..etc.

    awesome blog by the way!

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