Numbers

Let’s talk numbers, shall we?

When it comes to nutrition, numbers find their way into the conversation quite often. Calories, grams, pounds, ounces, cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, percents, RAH! It’s enough to make you kinda crazy.

I’m here to tell you to stop thinking numerically.

Just stop it.

No seriously. Stop the mental adding and subtracting, the daily weighing, the measuring, everything.

 

Likely story is that, one day, you decided to become more aware of what you were eating and what you were weighing, and to find that out, you resorted to numbers. How many calories did you need and what did that mean for grams of fat, carbs and protein? And how much of that came from this cereal? And how much cereal could I eat to get that number? But if I wanted to eat a snack after then what could I eat for this many calories? And then how many calories do I have left for the day? And what do I weigh in the morning, and then at night?

Does your brain hurt yet?

calories

If you still have that reel of questions in your mind, I don’t doubt that you’re a little tired from all the number-crunching.

As an almost-dietitian, I’m required to think like that, it’s my job. But when it comes to my own food and my own body, I turn the numbers off entirely. Why? For my sanity, my peace of mind.

Because I know from practice how much food my body needs, and how I feel when I’m at my “happy weight” and what a cup of pasta looks like on my plate. And if you already know these things, then why burden your mind with the constant scrolling of numbers?

 

If you are just starting out on a journey to bettering your health and eating habits, then yes, inevitably you will be looking at numbers at first. But once you develop healthy habits, then forget the numbers and go for practicality. Go based on experience. Maybe the calculation told you that you only need 1500 calories a day to maintain your weight, but only you truly know your energy requirements. It may take time and a little trial and error, but trust me when I say it is so much better than killing yourself with the calculator.

And if you are convinced that you need to keep track of the numbers, consult a dietitian. It is what they are legally trained and qualified to do, so that you can breathe and know that you are in good hands.

 

Being consumed by numbers is no way to live, I know that from experience.

Instead, practice mindful-eating.

Savor your food, savor every bite. Enjoy the fresh, crunchy lettuce as much as the smooth and sweet chocolate.

It takes practice, and it may not be easy at first, but it will be worth it. Soon the numbers will fade, and your sanity will return. You’ll be amazed at how much brain power is freed by simply letting go.

 

Do you count calories?

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23 thoughts on “Numbers

  1. This is such a great post. The RD I go to actually doesn’t talk about numbers at all. She knows I’m someone who will quickly become obsessed and I was taught to stop counting (I still do, but not as strictly) and just eat what I need. If it weren’t for her and her rather unique form of treatment, I’m pretty sure I’d still be in the heart of my ED. I definitely keep a rough estimate, but not to the single digit or anything. Mindful eating is something I’m working on, and I’m learning that it becomes easier once you just let go.

    • Yes yes yes! And correct me if I’m wrong but is your RD focused in recovery/ED’s? That’s ultimately where I want to go with my career so I’m glad to see we think alike πŸ™‚

      • I think so! I mean, for me she is and I know other people who have gone to her for weight gain but I’m sure she deals with weight loss as well. She just has the personality of a very holistic therapist and that mind-body connection.

  2. I’m definitely guilty of being a slave to the numbers– but honestly, measuring things out sometimes is a comfort for me. Knowing what I’m putting into my body makes me feel safe. Does that sound super strange?

    • Not at all! Especially if it’s something that we have history of over-indulging with. We all do it sometimes, and it’s okay as long as it doesn’t become obsessive.

  3. I agree with everything in this post!! There was a period where I was obsessed with counting calories which made me go crazy and was always in my mind it left room for little else. Gradually letting go of that kind of thinking was soooo freeing and I would never ever ever go back (ha, can you tell how much it hindered me?). I like posts like this that really remind you it’s all about balanced, not such strict guidelines, that make you happier and healthier.

  4. Hey girl!
    Great, GREAT post. I used to be hung up on calories, the scale – those SILLY numbers. They done me no good. so, none of that anymore. I have NO idea what I weigh or care to know..and it’s a much better life that way (for me, anyway!)

    • Our bodies need more calories than we like to think, and seeing it tip above 2000 kcal/day makes us feel like we are doing something wrong when we really are not! I am a big proponent of eating when hungry and stopping when you’re full πŸ™‚

  5. I do count calories. I’m trying to get more into mindful/intuitive eating but until I can break my tendancy to overeat, I try to monitor my daily calories. I love this post and I’d love to see more like this since you are almost a registered dietician!

    • That’s good that you are trying to get into that mindset, and it’s totally okay to do it in order to form habits! But once you realize what is good for your body and the right portion sizes, try to ween away so you don’t get stuck in the number game

  6. Love this. I am slowly getting to the point where I can stop counting…I counted calories for close to 2 years and it became too obsessive. I have to trust myself that I know how much to eat – now I’m just tracking the nutrition stats so that I can know that I’m eating the right stuff! Once I get it all balanced, I’m looking forward to deleting the app forever!

    That being said, I never count on holidays or the weekends πŸ™‚

    • It takes a while to convince yourself that you actually know what your body needs, so no need to feel rushed. And yes counting over the holidays is the number 1 time to let go and just enjoy yourself!

  7. I counted calories for about 7 months last year when I became obsessed about looking as “skinny” as possible for my wedding. It was not very fun, all it did was consume my every thought and I could hardly enjoy a meal! I’m much happier now that I dont count anymore and I am happy to say I haven’t gained a pound πŸ˜‰ Love this post, btw!

    • Oye it can be mind boggling, but you had an event to prepare for so it’s totally okay for you to take a look at the numbers when you’re trying to reach a goal. Sometimes it can be hard to break the habit though and I’m glad you did!

  8. Great post! I’ve never counted numbers. I’m just too lazy to keep track, but I did used to be a slave to the scale. Don’t really hop on that thing anymore. My pants fit comfortably and I feel happy.

    • The scale was always my downfall, I dropped counting calories the second I realized I didnt need to but the scale was like my daily indicator of my worth! Awful. I still weigh myself but it is not the same as it used to be

  9. I count calories, weigh myself daily, check restaurant websites for nutritional information prior to going out so that I can pick a dish that will fit within my calorie goal. I became obsessed with numbers in college and 7 years later I can’t let go. It’s scary for me, I need to know how much I’m consuming and that I’m not gaining any weight. It’s a burden I wish I could let go of, but I’m scared to death I’ll end up obese!

    • It is scary and I’m so glad that you recognize that it’s a burden. I definitely encourage you to talk with someone if you don’t feel like you can get out of the spiral yourself! It takes baby steps, and it takes time, but it is possible to live number-free. And it is okay to gain or lose a pound or two, no one is perfect and stays the exact same weight all the time! We all fluctuate, but our body has a set-point that it will eventually bring us back to if we continue with the same habits.

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