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Why you need to stop calorie counting

September 2019

Calorie/kilojoule counting is a big pet peeve of mine (well in Australia our measurement is kilojoule, but everyone uses calorie, so I guess I have two major peeves). Anywho, I don’t see any value in it for health. For one, who has the time? Talk about a burden. And two, many people work out their calories so they know “how many biscuits they can eat” or “if I skip this meal, I can eat this bar of chocolate”.

I do believe there are two types of people who count calories:
– those that are all or nothing, they’re will power is low and they believe it is the ONLY way to control what they eat (and therefore their body shape)
– those that grew up in a particular era where it was the norm

How calorie counting works

For those that don’t know what it is, you count the calories/kilojoules of every meal you eat. Which for the record is only the measurement of energy you consume! Depending on how long you’ve been doing it for, you may need an app to help you track them or you may know different foods off by heart. In my experience, when working with clients, the latter have a mindset that is harder to shift.

What to do instead?

Count nutrients. Count colours. As mentioned above, counting calories/kilojoules is only counting one thing, the energy a meal provides you. This is not a healthy way to manage your health or nutritional intake. I know clients who have participated in large scale “weight loss” programs where counting calories/kilojoules is the norm. They have also told me, they’d just skip a meal so they could enjoy a glass of wine. Does this sound like you? Why can’t you enjoy both as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle?

By looking at your plate and counting the different vegetables and other food components, you’re ensuring you’re meeting your body’s nutritional requirements. Not just your energy needs. I’m talking the good stuff here; the stuff you need everyday; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water.

When you’re “counting” nutrients (FYI you don’t actually count anything) you will notice a huge variety of colours. Every colour of the rainbow is your goal. This is the BEST way to have optimal energy. You will sleep better, think better, train better, recover better.

To me counting calories/kilojoules is creating an unhealthy relationship with food. You’re associating something that is designed to nourish you, as a thing that harms you. Work on your relationship with food. Food is not the enemy. Instead ask yourself will this nourish me? And if the answer is no, ask yourself, “am I OK and guilt free to eat this?” If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to a healthy relationship with food.

Until next time… x



Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Sydney, Northern Beaches, Mona Vale
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