Counting Calories is Bad?

I was floating around twitter bright and early yesterday morning and found a tweet from SHAPE Magazine (@Shape_Magazine) it kind of made me halt a little bit.

Shape Magazine

Of course my first instinct was to go and read the article. Rather than listing it all out you can go ahead and read it here. It was basically stating that counting calories can be the wrong choice. Several doctors listed what they thought about the issue.

Then of course, I felt the need to google it. Of course I did, Google is my life source when it comes to the internet. But I came across this website Diet Doctor. He had posted something short, simple, and sweet…and it definitely sparked some of the eyebrow raising responses I’m sure he was shooting for.

Calorie Counting Disorder
“Calorie Counting is an eating disorder”

Woah. I mean, WOAH. So now counting calories is bad? That’s an insanely generalized statement. He did post a follow up post titled Why Calorie Counting is an Eating Disorder which he further explained what he meant by his original post.

I found several other websites that basically said the same thing. “Counting Calories is wrong, focus more on quality than quantity” or “Counting calories is a horrible idea, it never works!” There are tons and tons of websites and blogs that will state that.

I will fully admit that when I first started counting calories I was extremely strict. I would choose less tasty/less healthy options over 20-50 calories. I would count everything in my mouth. I would definitely feel horribly guilty about myself if I went over my 1400 calorie allowance. I went crazy with my need to focus 100% on the numbers. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t do all of that.

But in my personal experience, it wasn’t the counting of calories that caused me to do that. It was just myself having a flawed sense of what was appropriate. I did the same thing while doing weight watchers, and Alli, and low-carb, etc etc etc.

I eventually learned that what I was doing was getting a little out of hand. I evolved my calorie counting into something more than strictly focusing on the numbers. Yes, I still count calories. Yes, I do watch what I eat. No, I don’t have an eating disorder.

donut and me use

Do I have issues with food? Definitely, some aspects of my eating habits may still be defined as “disordered.” Do I still eat chips and donuts? Ummm, yeah. So I still love Almond Joys and Reese’s Eggs…so what. Those choices have nothing to do with calorie counting. It has to do with self control and “hell yes, I want chocolate!”

I don’t focus 100% on the calories unless I’m figuring out a recipe. I have learned what serving sizes are (the whole a fist is a serving size of, or a palm is…) and when I’m not sure I definitely whip out my trusty measuring cup. I have learned when I am full or hungry not based off of calories but based off what my body is telling me.

But I still hold on to counting calories because, while I know my body, I also know myself. I know I get carried away.

I figure on anywhere from 1400-1800 calories. 1400 was a number my doctor gave me, realistically I know that some days I will go higher. I don’t try and force myself to stay within 1400-1450. I understand that I am only human and some days I just want to eat a chocolate bar or have a glass of wine (or two). I have no problem swaying what I’m eating depending on the healthier option or what I really truly want.

I’m sure there are not so great reasons to choose counting calories as your means to weight loss, but it’s no different than there being certain situations where choosing to lose weight isn’t the best idea.

I do agree that we, as a general population regardless of your technique of losing weight, should focus on a healthy way to lose weight. We should focus on all the things that our body needs. Nutrients, the food pyramid, exercise, sleep, bathing, etc.

Counting Calories on it’s own isn’t an eating disorder just as LCHF diets, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Paleo diets, etc aren’t eating disorders. What you do with your chosen “diet” can become a eating disorder, sure. But choosing a specific “diet” plan does not make you someone with an eating disorder.

I, Nicole, count calories. I do watch nutrients, and intake/outake. I watch what I eat. I try to have a balanced eating plan. I try to make my body as healthy as possible.

I do count calories, but I do not have an eating disorder.