There was a point in my life where I figured I would just be stuck counting calories forever, resigned to a life of sadness and disordered behavior. However, this proved to be untrue as I transitioned from a religious calorie counter to an intuitive eater – and you can too.
When you stop counting calories, you start enjoying and experiencing your food for its texture and flavor instead of as just a number. Eating becomes pleasurable when you aren’t constantly measuring, calculating, tracking, and obsessing over the food on your plate. You’ll open up space in your brain to focus on things that actually matter. You’ll be able to start eating intuitively by creating a stronger relationship to your body’s cravings and the food you eat. Obsession with food will fall by the wayside.
The truth is, no matter how accurate you think your calculations are using your BMI, TDEE, BMR, etc. to calculate the right amount of calories for you – there is no way to truly know as every single body is different. More to the point, without going crazy it is completely impossible to accurately know the calories of every food you eat. Remember, all a calorie is is a unit of energy and our bodies NEED energy to live. So here are some tips to stop counting calories forever.
GET RID OF CALORIE TRACKERS
This is a big one. I tracked all of my calories on “My Fitness Pal” but there are many others like it. Cronometer, Lose It, Fat Secret, etc. These apps were built to count calories so the best first step for a life without this burden is to get rid of them! If you aren’t using an app than get rid of whatever device you use to track the numbers. A notebook, planner, journal, or word document. Delete it, burn it, or have a friend drive 20 miles away and throw it in a dumpster. Getting that out of your life is a crucial first step.
GO OUT TO EAT AT RESTAURANTS
Most restaurants are impossible to gauge to calories for because you don’t know everything that goes into the food preparation. It helps to make sure you are with a friend or family member that can keep you distracted from trying to break down and calculate the meal components. If you are financially incapable of dining out, that’s alright – just have a friend or family member cook a meal for you without telling you what is in it. This is essentially the same concept. You are looking to let go of the tightly wound control you have to maintain while counting calories by letting go of the control over food prep.
BLOCK OUT NUTRITION LABELS
Take a sharpie and cover them up so that you can’t look at them obsessively. Go grocery shopping in bulk bins or for items that don’t have nutrition labels on them at local shops of farmers markets. Pick food for flavor and not for numbers.
HAVE FAITH YOURSELF TO EAT INTUITIVELY, BUT BE PATIENT
We are all born knowing how to eat. Your body knows what it needs and it is not trying to sabotage you. It loves you and want to keep you alive, return the favor to it. Eating intuitively takes practice but it is completely achievable for all of us since it is the way we are supposed to eat. Remember that it will take time as well because you are breaking a very bad habit – and habits are not broken overnight.
If any of these steps seem impossible or overwhelming than feel free to take it slow. I know how daunting and unreasonable these may seem – but if you implement these tactics into just one meal a day at first, and then slowly increase, you will eventually get there. Take it from a girl who used to count the calories in gum – you can do this!