Jun 26, 2012

Do you count calories?

This post is part of a reader Q&A.  I'm more than happy to answer your questions about my weight loss process (or anything for that matter). My email button is on the sidebar. Just please remember that I am not a doctor, dietitian or a nutritionist.  These answers are absolutely specific to me and my personal journey.

Question: Do you count calories?
Nope. When I began looking into eating plans I quickly became overwhelmed with the point systems and calorie calculators and good calories vs. bad calories stuff.  I realize that these programs have merit and have worked beautifully for some people. But I knew early on that if I was going to stick with a healthy eating plan, counting calories was out. As I write this, the little voice inside my head is saying, "But Sarah, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories that you consume! How do you expect to stay on top of your consumption if you have no idea how much you're eating?"

Honestly, I don't know how many calories I'm consuming. And I really don't care. I'm only concerned with one simple question: "Is this food a nutritious, healthy choice?" I didn't get fat by eating avocado sandwiches on sprouted grain bread. I didn't get fat eating fistfuls of raw nuts. I didn't get fat because I went overboard on the olive oil and almond butter. I got fat eating refined sugars, and refined carbs.  But I can't tell you how many diet books I've read that warn against the fat content of raw nuts, avocados and olive oil and offer instead a list of low fat food items laced with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Weird, right? It just doesn't make intuitive sense to me.

Question: Do you write down everything you eat?
Nope. But I think its a great habit for some people. I am an avid journaler, and while I don't write down every morsel of food that touches my lips, I do write how I feel about what I'm eating. I'm more concerned with eating well and feeling well and that's what I write about. I also write down my gratitudes and accomplishments for the day. When I write about these things in an integrated way, I find that I am better able to integrate them in my life.

healthy food + active body + good thoughts + grateful heart = smaller sarah

If I were forced to write down my weight loss plan, it would be the equation above. I know when I've consumed good healthy food because I feel light and energized. And I know when I've had junk because I fell like ass in a bucket. For me, I equate writing down each bite with punishment. The only reason to write it down is if you ate something "off plan". I don't need a piece of paper staring back at me that says, "17 Oreo cookies and a Red Bull". I find it far more useful to address the emotional side affects of my food consumption in journal form. That's why instead of counting calories, I count the good feelings that came from the good food that allowed me to enjoy the good moments.


Jack said...

HA! I very much doubt that you have ever had occasion to write down "17 Oreo cookies and a Red Bull" since I've known you!

Sarah Greenman said...

Thank you darling. You're right, my binge would be a tub of caramel sea salt ice cream! The Oreo / Red Bull combo seemed to be the most hideous intestinal mixture I could come up with.

Karri said...

I started counting calories and found it to be too time consuming, which means it wouldn't be sustainable in the long term. Also, I find that as long as I stick with a whole foods, plant based diet, I hover around the same calorie intake every day. So, I dropped it, and nothing has changed except for very slow, very steady weight loss. :)

hannah said...

I count calories. I started a few weeks ago and it really has given me a 'reset' in terms of managing my eating. I actually quite enjoy the process of calculating what I've eaten and I love figuring out how to 'hack' recipes to make them friendly for my 1300 calorie daily allowance.

That being said, I will still eat a slice of pizza or some yum cha here and there. I just adjust my other meals accordingly and choose the healthiest possible option when eating junk.