I sound like a bit of a broken record on this subject don’t I? That’s ok. I like to make it known that I’m a big fan of calorie counting in certain situations.
I used 411fit.com to make sure I was eating enough at times through my pregnancy. I also counted calories before when wanting to lose weight. I think it’s a great tool to make people more aware of what they are putting in their body.
However, there are a couple trouble spots with counting calories full time. I ran into them in my past, which is why I am grateful that I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can focus on whole foods rather than calorie counting. (and thanks to Jenn for hosting WIAW!)
A scoop of Nutty Butter and half a banana
Above is some delicious caramel apple Nutty Butter made by Sarah. It’s ridiculously good. However, there is no nutrition label and the calorie-counting me would have stressed how to “count” it. Same as peanut butter? Less? More? I hated missing out on delicious foods, simply because they weren’t labeled with nutritional content.
2% Blueberry Fage with Love Grown Granola and pomegranate arils
Exercise also can become more obsessive while calorie counting, too. I think it’s how people (especially women) fall into the cardio rut (all cardio, all the time). It burns more calories, right? It undermines the importance of strength training.
Yesterday, my friend talked me into trying a new class at the gym- cardio strength. There was no little calorie burn calculator to look at, just sweat and sore muscles. I have no idea how many calories I burned during that class and the beauty is, I don’t care. I didn’t add or subtract those calories from my daily total allotment, instead I relished in my muscle fatigue and ate when I was hungry.
Romaine, brown rice, black beans, jalapenos, avocado, sour cream, salsa and cilantro
This lunch would have been a pain back in the calorie counting days because I’d have to measure the rice, measure the beans and probably leave off the sour cream. For calorie counting purposes, it would be easier to heat up a Lean Cuisine. Health wise, the salad mess is so much better. Less chemicals, not cooked in plastic, more filling, and the list goes on. Often times I would pick convenience foods over fresh because it was easier to count. Another pitfall of strict calorie counting.
Half a grapefruit, carrot sticks and Sabra hummus
A focus of solely calories also puts some really healthy foods at a disadvantage. Avocado, for example. It is not a low calorie food, but its rich in vitamins and minerals, provides necessary healthy fat for the body and keeps you satiated. A big bang for your calorie buck.
Sweet Potato Chili topped with avocado, sour cream and cilantro
Overall I think calorie counting can be beneficial, but when it becomes obsessive, all those benefits are negated. Food begins to rule your life and you find yourself googling menu items on your cell phone while out to dinner. Been there. It’s terribly annoying.
Once I began to use calorie counting as a guide and a learning tool, I found it helpful instead of obsessive and slowly transitioned into focusing on whole foods. Now, I don’t have calorie counts swirling through my head when I sit down to enjoy a glass of vino.
…and it makes it taste SO much better.
Let’s chat. What are your thoughts on counting calories?