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From our blog.

Counting Calories is so OUT!

STEPHEN AMELIA / September 13, 2016

As a Dietitian in private practice, clients often come in thinking they are going to be put on a strict calorie-counting meal plan that will take away
all of their favorite foods. While this could lead to temporary weight loss or weight gain (depending on the intention), it is nearly impossible to
sustain and does not create a healthy, enjoyable (and lasting) relationship with food.

Numbers – whether it’s calories, body weight, the number of steps you walked that day or how many lattes you had – do not make you a good or bad
person, but they can make you feel that way if you let them. Have you ever gotten on the scale and maybe the number wasn’t exactly what you
wanted it to be?  And then felt guilty for eating dessert the night before? Or maybe your fitbit reads 3,000 instead of 10,000 steps and now you
feel like a slacker?  Who determines that eating dessert makes you “bad” or that not walking 10,000 steps in a day makes you lazy? These parameters
we have set for ourselves are completely arbitrary and really only serve to make you feel like you haven’t met the mark; that you aren’t good enough.
Do these numbers really  measure your self worth?  No.
Counting calories has this same effect. The minute you give yourself a caloric budget, you have set in place numeric parameters for your self worth. For
example, if your goal is to eat 2,000 calories, and you go over one day, you fail and become a bad person with no control. What if it’s the parameters
that failed you?
Many things can go wrong with diets constrained by calorie limits. Calorie restricted diets often limit or eliminate certain foods from your diet.  Restricting
certain foods or labeling them as “good” or “bad”, leads to deprivation and risk of overeating later.  Not to mention that weight suppression
through calorie restriction often leads to weight gain beyond baseline weight in the long run.
Plus, any calorie goal is simply an estimate of what you may need in a given day to support essential, subconscious body functions (cell function, liver
function, breathing, etc) and purposeful activity (getting to and from places, thinking, exercise, etc) and non-essential activity (fidgeting, talking
with your hands, etc).  Calculating calorie needs is not an exact science. Calorie requirements are based on one’s BMR (basal metabolic rate),
his/her lifestyle, activity level, and genetics. This means that each person’s caloric requirements are different and individual, vary day to day and
cannot be determined by an app or a simple calculation.
Rather than focus on calorie counting and the number on the scale, listen to your body’s hunger cues and eat what you love while striving for balance.
These are the essential elements of mindful eating.  Instead of tracking calories, try tracking your hunger level and mood before and after
all meals and snacks. Identify trends and ask yourself why am I eating? Am I really hungry? Am I stressed, bored, happy? What do I really want to eat
right now?  Logging your hunger and mood can help you see how you make food choices and some of things that may influence how you eat.
Eating is about balance, enjoyment and health and not about deprivation or numbers.  Just like you’re worth more than a number, so is your food. Enjoy
it.