Getting over a fear of counting calories

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    Getting over a fear of counting calories

    I wanted to see if anyone else has a weird opposition to counting calories like I do. Granted, I KNOW it’s a great and simple way to be more knowledgeable about how much you are eating, regardless of one’s weight goals. I tried doing this a few times in past years and it really did equip me with a better understanding of calorie counts in my every day foods, as well as my own needs.

    My issue is that I would eventually psyche myself out and overthink how much I was eating, to the point that I developed some strong food guilt, so I stopped. I also found calorie tracking apps to be not that great with estimating calories of food not in their databases.

    i would like to get back into the habit however, just for better understanding of my own eating tendencies and caloric needs. Has anyone ever encountered this fear of overthinking? and how did you overcome it?

    Me. Being in the frame of mind I am today and coming from a very disordered eating background - my advice would be - don't count.

    Use it to work out a mealplan for yourself with a couple of different options for meals. Then stick to that instead.

    If you get bored, just plan a new menu.


      Hi plumsftw! I actually feel the same about calorie counting. First I felt guilty because I just couldn't stick to it, but then I realized that I had started to see only numbers, not food anymore. And to me that wasn't a desirable thing at all. I think food is too delicious to be reduced to numbers And I'm very convinced that if I eat whole foods most of the time, my body will be just fine. So I'll never count again.
      That's just my take on it though, I know counting helps a lot of people. But if you already have these feelings of guilt, it might not be for you as well.
      Have a nice day!


        I find calories are a good way of tracking information, but all information has to be considered together. I think a lot of people try to diet, eat relatively well, don't see any results a d then stop because it is not working.

        Last year I lost about 94 pounds in about 40 weeks, and I did it by weighing myself every day, but I found that the best information to look at was not the day by day numbers but more like week by week. This allowed me to see if I was actually losing versus seeing little spikes everywhere on my daily weigh ins. These can come from a bunch of reasons - body composition and water retention being my two most common experiences. It also allowed me to see if I was plateauing and needed to change something else about diet.

        I am at a healthier and happier weight now, still trying to lose weight, just not as fast as before. Now I weigh in once a week and I am mindful of my calories burned and calories consumed but not to the point of actually calculating anything. I find it is a much healthier approach.


          I used to count calories...but find it extremely tedious and difficult. So I would rather just workout more frequently and a little harder and enjoy what I eat. I eat mostly healthy foods 90% of the time anyway. I just want to be healthy, fit and strong.


            I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories. It is a pain in the butt sometime. I find it helpful, especially when a eat a treat (ice cream) and see the cost - calories, fat, etc, I find it helps my motivation. I also record my workouts in the same app.


              Thank you everyone. It's cool to see a variety of responses and approaches, and it's given me a bit to think about throughout the day. I like the planned meal approach Nevetharine. My goal is to one day be at a point in life where everything I buy from the grocery store is whole with nothing processed. As a young working professional with limited cooking time...that goal is a struggle to achieve but the general trend I see here and in other places is that once a whole foods diet (more or less), is achieved, energy balance takes care of itself.

              yeah I do find that at times I focus a lot on the past few days of my eating habits rather than the bigger picture, of say the past few weeks or the past month. This could be worth me revisiting. I used to log my food with an app called Ate, which was cool since it allowed me to take a bird's eye view of what I ate in the short and long run. What I didn't like is that it has me assign "good" or "bad" to the food I just ate, which needless to say can lead to an unhealthy attitude around food...tldr I should maybe start logging again without assigning value to it to see what I'm eating over a broader period of time.


                I found that tracking my food without counting calories/macros gave me the best of both worlds - allows me to see my patterns and make smarter choices but doesn't let me fall down some number obsessed rabbit hole.

                Also, if you lack cooking time daily, do you have it weekly? Plenty of stuff can be made ahead or at least prepped ahead to make daily meals easier. And some "semi processed" (steam in the bag frozen veggies, or those bagged salad kits from produce dept) are good transitional items as you get into cooking more. Also, some appliances like a rice cooker w a steamer basket, or an instapot or other pressure cooker, will let you make homemade food faster/easier.


                  Calories can be a weird thing to consider. For instance I have read that the body is not as efficient at converting calories out of some foods compared to others. From what I read almonds particularly have calories that our body finds hard to process. A lot of the calorie information provided by manufacturers or distributors is also wrong. That is why I try to look at the big picture as much as possible to see what is happening.

                  I think also with calories people are relying to find some sort of magical formula to continue eating in counter productive ways. Most people know if they are over or under their daily calories anyway. It is not as though a person could eat cupcakes with every meal and be eating healthily, even if their caloric total for the day is below the threshold.


                    'rin I usually do have time to cook weekly, my current way of cooking (when i'm away from family) is to prep one dish and have that for a couple of days. Buuut this isn't the most convenient because I'm not really prepping multiple meals or cutting up veggies in advance, I'm just doing everything for that dish in one day. So that is one opportunity to create efficiency, by actually learning to you know, prep things for several meals ahead of time haha.

                    CaptainCanuck good point - one of my best friend's mom is a dietician (or a nutritionist, I know there's a difference but I forget which), and her mantra is "It isn't how much you eat, it's what you eat." Which stuck with me for a long time, because I both agree and disagree. There were definitely times I will justify eating a cookie because "Oh it's only like 50 calories." Lol. What you are saying really puts everything into a different frame of reference.


                      her mantra is "It isn't how much you eat, it's what you eat."
                      It's both.

                      You can eat less and eat a bunch of junk and your health will probably suffer as a result. In the long term, that causes malnourishment. Yes, you are eating your fill in calories, but you're eating nutritionally void food, so, your body is actually starving.

                      Or you can eat all healthy stuff, but overeat, and your weight will creep up.

                      On an earlier point about calories being inaccurate - on food packaging the range for accuracy can be 20% in either direction. So if you think a cookie is 50 calories, it may be 50 + 20% or it may be 50 - 20%.

                      And yes, it's a huge oversimplification of an extremely complicated process. (Have you seen what a metabolic chart looks like? It's insane!)

                      It's completely plausible that our bodies are able to extract more or less calories than what we are calculating from any one specific food.

                      In the end, the best solution is to do one thing for a while, see how it works for you, both in terms of results and enjoyment. If it works, great, don't fix what ain't broke.

                      If it doesn't, tweak until it does.

                      Just don't be like me and tweak a million times a week. I promise you won't see results. You actually have to keep at it for at least 4 weeks to see if it's working.