Before we get into a day of WIAW eats, I want to open up about something that’s been on my mind lately: calories. And not just the calories themselves, but the context we build around them. For anyone who isn’t too clear on the concept of “context”, think of it as a set of ideas / actions / learned behaviors that informs and shapes how we think about something – in this case, the concept of the calorie.
Obviously, none of us was born fearing high calorie foods and that special sort of guilt we feel, some more than others, is definitely not intrinsic. And don’t worry, I’m not about to launch into an attack on diet culture and how it creates unnecessary negative connotations with food although you all know I definitely could. Truth be told, when I sat down to write this blog post I didn’t intend to challenge diet culture or body shamers or any of the context about the calorie stigma, but rather to challenge myself to count calories from Monday-Friday of this week. And not for the reason you think.
Breakfast: Started with a strawberry banana + almond butter smoothie (unpictured) at my friend’s house, followed by this gluten free blueberry scone & green tea latte from Cafe Gratitude (both shared with my friend)
You must be asking yourself at this point, why would I, a self-proclaimed intuitive eater and advocate for all things intuitive eating (AKA exact opposite of calorie counting) revert back to my old ways? Well, let me tell you why the heck I wanted to count calories in the first place
- To remind myself of the calorie counting mindset that many of my readers are still battling to overcome, so that I can better guide them towards intuitive eating
- To de-bunk the myth that eating X amount of calories that is considered “scary” (usually 2500 -3500+) will make you gain weight like crazy / ruin your physical fitness or physique
- To prove to myself that I can count calories religiously for a week, and then say goodbye to it. Kick it out of my life and welcome the food freedom of intuitive eating. Because if I can, you can too.
Breakfast / brunch: Shortly following the scone we ordered two dishes to split. This BBQ tempeh scramble with mixed veggies, avocado & GF sourdough toast and a vegan, lentil curry bowl with a deliciously sweet chutney.
I figured, that if I counted calories so religiously for years, surely I could do it for a few days for educational purposes. For learning purposes and for growth, right? ….Wrong
Like I said, when I sat down to write this post, it was a Monday afternoon. As Monday evening approached and I started to do the tally in my head and prepare myself to add it all up, a bunch of old emotions flooded in that I was not expecting.
Snack after brunch: passionfruit ice cream from a lil creamery!
Let me just tell you, the second I started thinking about the idea of counting my day’s calories, which happened to be as I was preparing dinner, the most intense wave of anxiety flooded in. I’m going to mention a possible trigger warning here, because here’s the kind of thoughts that started running through my brain at the mere thought of calorie counting
- While cooking dinner… This beef patty has 440 calories?! (Normally I wouldn’t even look) Why the hell did I buy this? Is it too late to refreeze it?
- As I went to grab a handful of pretzels after dinner... Wait, how am I going to plug this in later? How much is a serving of pretzels? Should I count the handful out one by one? Can I estimate
- When I wanted to dip my pretzels in some peanut butter and took the jar to my room… Wait what if I’m not able to stop eating the peanut butter? Should I portion it out? Should I just not eat it all together
Snack later that day: Fage 2% peach yogurt + some pretzels
Those thoughts were so uncomfortable, so anxiety inducing, so…familiar that I decided to abandon the challenge once and for all. But I’m still going to answer those three prompts for you. Because here’s what my experience revisiting calorie counting reminded me:
- The mindset of so many of my readers. How debilitating it is, but also how nothing can make you go back to it once you’ve learned how to eat intuitively. My love for you guys is infinite. And there’s not much that I wouldn’t do for y’all or the sake of Healthyezsweet Life, but counting calories is in that slim 1% because it is that painful and that unnatural. So whatever justification you’re using to keep that calorie counting app on your Iphone, it’s time to say goodbye.
- The myth that eating X amount of calories will make you gain weight (usually people associate it with 2500 – 3000+) is just that, a myth. I’ve been weight restored for almost a year now, and for the recent six months (after the weight gain & stabilization period) I have maintained the same number on the scale give or take 3 pounds (depending on morning or night). Don’t be afraid to quit tracking. It is the BEST way to maintain without driving yourself crazy.
- Well, I didn’t prove to myself that I could count calories religiously for a week and then kick it. But I did count them religiously for years and guess what? Still kicked it. Kicked it so hard that I absolutely under no circumstances could go back to it. A life free of calorie counting, forever. It’s possible. It’s real. You can most certainly get there too.
Dinner: hibachi shrimp with grilled veggies (some still on the grill!) and the most delicious, buttery fried rice I’ve ever tasted. Not a grain was left in the bowl!
So guys, what was the point of me telling you about my failed attempt to count calories? To show you from an outside looking in perspective how messed up we’ve made the context of calories in our society. Right now it may feel normal to you that you count out or weight everything you eat. You may think it’s an extension of your will power, something all the “healthy” folks are doing, and yet it feels like there’s no way out.
There. Is. A. Way. Out.
And you don’t have to worry about relapsing or back sliding because I promise you, once you kick that calorie counting habit once and for all, you’ll never miss it. Not even for a second. You’ll be too busy enjoying spontaneous wine nights and peanut butter from the jar. You’ll be too busy laughing and loving and being present in life. And I’m here for you for all of that.
No really, I love it when you guys email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask me your recovery questions, your intuitive eating questions. You don’t have to do this alone. <3
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