I put the kibosh on my calorie counting last week. I had been keeping track since January. At that time I had begun tracking calories because my diet was on the lam and a few pounds had popped onto my petite frame. I found counting to be helpful initially, because it helped me analyze what I was eating and understand why I was going over on calories and I decided I was stopping the count on calories.
For a while it was even fun. I liked seeing the numbers total up on my Excel spreadsheet and felt pride when I met my goal for the day. Other times I would kick myself if the numbers seemed too high. And eating out? While rare, I usually felt guilty afterward, even though the meals were not impacting the scale.
Stopping the Count on Calories
I don’t go all out but I would say I go for what I want when I eat out. I’ll eat the burger over the salad. Or sweet potato fries over a side salad. Despite being a rare occasion, I would then see that one meal up my calories for the day into the 2,000+ figure. Then I’d feel really grumpy over seeing that number. I realize this doesn’t happen all the time, but just seeing that number made the meal less enjoyable.
I have learned quite a bit through my 6-month calorie counting experiment.I understand now I can’t drink three glasses of wine every week. But I understand a weekend treat is OK. I understand now that by drinking tea most mornings I don’t add any calories to my diet. And if I want to sweeten my tea, a splash of agave syrup will only bring 20 or 30 calories. I can have a latte now and then, but that’s a treat now. My Starbucks iced lattes are 180 calories. That adds up I start having them several times a week.
Outside of what I learned about beverages, I also learned about portion control. By counting calories I was more conscious of whether I was putting 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a recipe or a two. While a healthy fat, olive oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon. The same applied to my butter spread which has 45 calories per tablespoon. Prior to the counting, I had no idea.
Stopping the Count on Calories
And I also came to realize, in my opinion, that counting calories on the fruit and vegetables I eat is pretty much useless. They are healthy. We all know that. The counting played a bigger role for me when it came to fats, carbohydrates (non-vegetable), protein and beverages.
Do you really need to count calories on your salad? No. Not unless you loaded it with cheese, bacon bits and 1,000 island dressing. I also, believe it or not, have been able to memorize how many calories are in many of the foods I eat every day. So I believe even without counting I’ll still have an understanding of what I’m putting into my body.
So here I am. I stopped the count. I don’t know if I will count again, only time will tell. As an update, the counting and exercise, I believe, did help me get back to a happy weight for myself. (I am now about 10 pounds lighter than I was in January.)
Maybe if I fly off the wagon again, counting can bring me back to even ground. We’ll see. For now I’m enjoying going back to a life without numbers. I’ll picking writing over math any day.