Do you find yourself searching the aisles for low-calorie options? Do you crave certain foods that exceed your calorie allotment? Have you experienced the frustration of meeting your calorie goals, yet you’re still crazy hungry at the end of the day? Don’t worry, it’s not you. There are many reasons why counting calories may not help you lose weight. Here are three of my biggest reasons.
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When you start focusing on how many calories you’re eating, it’s very easy to get sucked into looking at the numbers and not paying attention to what you’re actually eating. That’s where you’ll see food marketing steering you in the wrong direction. You start looking for sugar-free options and low-calorie snacks because it seems like a win-win, but you’re really eating Franken-food disguised as a healthy alternative with fewer nutrients and more additives that (if we’re being honest) is not as tasty as the “real” alternative.
Instead of solely looking at calories, focus on real food that is more nutrient dense, has better flavor, is more satisfying, and is generally naturally lower in calories anyway.
When your objective is to eat fewer calories it becomes really easy to start seeing food as good or bad – things you should or shouldn’t eat; things that are or aren’t on your list; things you have to stay away from or you’ll ruin your diet for the day.
This counting cycle leads to bargaining. At the end of the day when you see that you’re 200 calories under your limit, you think it’s ok to eat dessert or a bag of chips, or an extra slice of pizza because there’s room in your diet to have more, never mind the fact that you didn’t stop to think if you were actually hungry in the first place.
Why is bargaining a problem? Because you should be able to eat those foods whenever you want, knowing what your body needs and what you can tolerate.
When we stop listening to our bodies, we start eating based on rules which means anytime we’re in a situation that doesn’t allow for perfect eating, we don’t know what to do so we give up altogether.
No wonder most people can’t stick to any diet.
A lot of people think that they need to just cut calories to lose weight. And while that may be true, if you’re cutting calories too much and you’re still hungry, then that’s never going to give you the results you want. No one wants to be hungry for the rest of their life.
This is where the vicious hangry diet cycle is seen. You can be eating low-calorie food and meeting your calorie goals for the day, but if you’re not eating quality food that provides you with the right protein, fat, and carbs, then you’ll be hungry. Plain and simple.
Then you become that stereotypical hangry dieter because you’re not really feeding your body even though you’re meeting your calorie needs.
Imagine never counting calories again.
When you focus on the quality of your food, meaning you’re eating whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, quality protein, and full-fat dairy, you are meeting your nutrient needs and you’ll most likely meet your calorie needs as well.
The big goal is to start seeing food as nourishment and a resource for living a great life instead of seeing food as just good or bad things you do multiple times per day.
Listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full. You’ll be happier and your body will be better fed.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
-Jenna Lee, RD