Something I have held onto for far too long is calorie counting. Initially, it was used as a tool for weight-loss, until I got sick. Then, it became a tool for weight restoration, allowing me to make sure I was eating enough to care for my body. And this support allowed me to gain my health back.
However, once my body began to heal again, I slowly began tapering my calories back down and found myself clinging to MyFitnessPal in hopes of maintaining some sense of control over my calories and, if I’m being honest, my weight. During quarantine, it, and cardio, became addictive again. They provided a sense of control and normalcy amongst the chaos. I completely understand why this felt necessary for me, or for anyone, at that time.
But yet again, I reached a place where I was no longer controlling my calorie intake, it was controlling me. Thankfully, I was able to seek support, work through some of my anxieties, and begin to eat enough again. For some reason, though, I still held on to calorie counting, and have yet to let go. And while it may not be inherently restrictive anymore and I don’t set limits on my intake, I think it’s time I work on letting it go.
I wanted to write this today because maybe you are in the same boat. Whether it feels restrictive or not, maybe you are questioning if it is actually serving you. Maybe you already know the answer, like I do. Sadly, I think we all have this ability to talk ourselves out of doing things that feel unfamiliar, and our brains begin to catastrophize and list all the things that could possibly go wrong. So, I want to share some perspective. Let’s just be objective for a moment and consider the facts of the situation.
Here are some questions to consider if you are uncertain if calorie counting is supportive of your journey:
- Do you feel anxious, frustrated, or stressed if you are unable to know the exact number of calories in any given meal?
- Does the number of calories you feel comfortable eating within a day differ depending on whether you got in movement or not?
- Do you turn down events, gatherings, or meals because you fear the food will not fit in with your allotted calories for a day?
- Are you constantly thinking about food or worrying about what you can eat next and when you can eat it?
- When you give yourself permission to stop tracking for a day, do you feel completely out of control around food?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it may mean that counting calories is doing more harm than good. Personally, I know it is time to let go because it is hindering my ability to trust my body, which is just resulting in more anxiety. I know we have all been sold this narrative that it is critical to count calories, but if counting calories is disruptive to your social life, harming your mental health, or even just not enjoyable, please know you always have permission to let it go. We’re in this together.
Find more tips by following @messymindfulness over on Instagram or sydneyscott991 on TikTok.