Not long ago I had a conversation with a woman that has a strong desire to change her lifestyle and be healthy and fit. While we were talking about her present diet and what she could change in her nutrition, she asked “ Should we count calories?”. Without giving it much thought I answered “No!”. At first sight it might look unprofessional and wrong, but I will back up my answer!
My experience with counting calories
When I first started following a nutrition plan, I was obsessed with counting calories. I was walking around with a scale and I was measuring every bite, and later on I used one of those online calorie counters to calculate my calorie intake. When the proportions between protein,fat and carbs wasn’t as I had planned it, I got disappointed and unmotivated! Every calorie above the initially planned was the end of the world! I had the feeling, that I failed and I was mad at myself for not being able to follow a strict regimen.
It was like an enchanted circle, where every calorie, every fat or carb in excess made me feel like a complete failure. I thought that it is impossible for my nutrition to be “perfect”! That put a lot of stress and pressure in my life. At times I felt how eating instead of being just a fuel for my body, became the main goal in my life. Everything was down to the calories, the proportions, the timing and the perfect calculations!
Even though I achieved some of my goals about my appearance, inside I was feeling unsatisfied and overwhelmed!
Besides, a person who has problems with his weight, 99,9% has some other stress in his life that is contributing for him being overweight. Trying to calculate every calorie, puts some additional pressure to his life and that limits the chances for success!
Instead I always encourage people, when they decide to eat healthy, to concentrate on the quality of food not the quantity! That is the first step! I know that some days you will be eating more than you need, but right now that doesn’t matter! Real food, even when in bigger quantities is still better than junk food in moderation! You need to start substituting every junk food with its health alternative!
When you get used with eating real food, you can move on to the next stage- learn to have good fats(avocado, raw nuts, olives,butter), protein( eggs,meat,fish) and carbs( fruits and vegetables) at every sitting! You do not need to be stressed about measuring the exact quantities and proportions. If you still want to be on track with it you can do the following. Your protein should be the size of your palm (without the fingers. Carbs if they are vegetables should be twice the size of your palm, if they are more dense carbs, they should be once the size of your palm. Your fats should be the size of your thumb! It is that simple and easy!
When you keep on eating like that for a longer period, you will start listening to your body and you will know better when and what to eat! I know it sounds a little fairy, but you will understand it by yourself!
Counting calories and proportions, leads to way to much focus on your nutrition. As everything else in life, the more you pay attention to it, the bigger part of your life it gets and the bigger is the danger of it turning into an obsession!
Food should complete your life and not turn into a goal of your life! When you are not home and you do not have protein,fats and carbs available- don’t stress about it! Just get some real food- no matter if it is gonna be just raw nuts or some fruit. It is far better to pick up some real food than eat the junk!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried a lot of different nutrition plans. I counted calories, proportions, per cents and that always stressed me a lot and interfered with my goals! Nowadays I just eat real food and I follow the “rule” with the palms, and still sometimes if I feel I need to eat more I will do it. If I need less food I will eat less!