Are you spending significant time and effort on dieting, like it’s your job? Or maybe your significant other? Just stop. Counting calories is not a real hobby. And it’s driving you completely nuts. As a Holistic Health Coach, people come to me all the time requesting some very specific things: the “right” number of calories to consume and a list of specific foods to eat. Honestly? They’ve completely lost touch. With themselves! They’ve typically done a lot of dieting and tried a lot of plans and products. Often, they’ve also experienced lots of stress or trauma. The problem is that they no longer respond correctly to their body’s signals for feeling hungry or full. Instead, they’ve trained themselves to eat by the clock, until that plate is licked clean, or until that magic calorie count has been reached. And usually, until they’ve numbed out any number of uncomfortable emotions.
It’s assumed that, surely, a Health Coach must have the perfect diet they simply haven’t discovered yet- and naturally, it’ll be their magic ticket to success. They’re shocked at our first appointment when I don’t hand them a “follow-this-to-the-T” diet plan or discuss calorie counts or fat grams. Or that I don’t even keep a scale in my office. In fact, the only time I use the D word is to tell them to STOP Dieting!
Here are my top 3 reasons to quit your diet:
1. Restricting calories puts you in a mindset of living a “less than” existence.
Every day. At every meal. Not the kind of framework to get you excited and prepped for success, right? Besides, there are so many more relevant factors that influence body composition and lasting health than the calorie count. Bottom line: it’s pretty hard to get behind a strategy that really doesn’t support joyfulness or feeling both physically and emotionally fantastic.
2. Calorie counting promotes eating refined, packaged foods.
Most people who count calories tend to eat a lot of things with wrappers. You know, where the calorie count and fat grams are printed on the side. I don’t care how organic, grass-fed, non-GMO, and gluten-free that protein bar is, it’s just not optimal nutrition. Now, don’t panic and send me hate mail just yet. We all need safe “emergency” foods sometimes. You know, so the car doesn’t accidentally veer into the Taco Bell drive-thru. A few quality packaged items stashed away can truly save the day. But they shouldn’t be daily staples. If you find yourself in a food emergency several times a week, it’s time to re-evaluate your routine and priorities, not stock up on more packaged goodies.
3. Calorie counting is really about control.
Most people really get into calorie counting because it provides the illusion of control.
“I can eat exactly 73 calories at lunchtime today because I had that super whip mocha choca latte with sprinkles this morning. Gotta get back on track.” Punishing yourself with food choices is not a sustainable strategy. And do you really want to promote trust issues with your own dang self? Look. If you’re feeling out of control where appetite and cravings are concerned, you’re waaaaay better off working to balance your hormones through nutrition and lifestyle measures. Don’t even start a willpower battle by obsessively counting calories. Because- sorry to tell you- your hormones actually are the boss of you. And they don’t care what your daily calorie count is. Face it: willpower isn’t a safe bet for lasting change. Giving up unhealthy control, looking more closely at your relationship with food and body image, and balancing your hormones is. Wellness creates a healthy weight, but your ideal weight doesn’t necessarily create health. Choose wisely.
Besides. Who wants to take time to write down everything you eat all the time? And there’s math. Lord, have mercy. I can think of a million things to do with my time that would be more fun- and still enable a healthy weight.
Deprivation, restriction, and calorie-counting are just short-term solutions. Your body is super smart and will eventually figure out a work-around for any system or plan you try. So give your body what it’s really asking for: real nutrition and healthy lifestyle measures to create a balanced body, mind, and spirit. You’ll find that nourishing yourself properly just kinda takes care of that whole losing weight thing. No math required.
I work with clients both locally and virtually. Call 406-203-5848 if you’d like to learn more about working on your relationship with food and life.