Are you still counting food numbers?
Do you count calories, fat grams, points, syns or carbs?
You might have circulated through counting different numbers at different times in your life. Each time you might begin with a renewed sense of excitement. The control and the planning and the knowing where you are leave you feeling in charge. You’re the boss, you know how to drive this dieting vehicle and you have your eyes on the road, looking ahead to your destination of weight loss. Or maybe complete control over all food once and for all.
But what happens?
You stop counting, and it feels like you are trying to catch water in your hands. It feels like things are spinning out of control faster than you can catch up.
You redouble your efforts to try harder by skipping meals, or eating very plain foods which you know fall well into your allocated number allowance.
But when it seems to be going okay and you feel you are almost back on track again, it happens to be a friend’s birthday or a colleague at work is leaving and there is cake and chocolate and rich meals to be indulged in with this celebration.
Is this at all familiar to you?
Food numbers are like a comfort blanket made out of barbed wire.
Don’t believe me? Here are three reasons you should ditch the calorie counters handbook forever.
- Calories don’t really mean anything
Sure they show us how much energy that food product contains. But that energy was calculated by burning the food within laboratory conditions. As you may be aware – your body is not a laboratory. It’s a highly complex system. How the food interacts with your particular system cannot be simplified by some numbers on a packet.
- Calories or food numbers designed by slimming clubs make you focus on the wrong thing
If calories or points are your focus, why would you pick up separate ingredients when you could buy a ready-made, pre-packaged food product where the number is conveniently plastered on the front for you to neatly count? Food numbers are not the first thing you should look at when looking at a food product. It should be ingredients first, and then perhaps sugar or fat grams after if that interests you. Forget the calories and the slimming club numbers. They make you lose sight of the quality of the product, the integrity of the ingredients and how that item may impact your health. Health is often left by the wayside when food numbers are concerned, as often the reason for counting them is for weight loss but this skews our view of food.
- Food number focus disregards your feelings
I had a client once who often ate convenience food products as they were easy and low calorie. But the thing is, she didn’t even like these products. Food becomes a sort of inanimate object and you choose it based on external merits. When you focus on food numbers, you forget about what you really want. Do you want the cardboard rice cake that is zero fat? Or do you want a slice of sourdough with salted butter? I’m not saying that you can’t make decisions with your overall wellbeing in mind and sometimes go for a choice that you feel serves your body better. But what can happen is that you lose trust in any signs your body sends you. Numbers over feelings lead us to feel very frustrated with food. We don’t get that satisfaction, and we end up binge eating in a desperate bid to get what we really want.
I’ve counted calories in the past, and more recently sugar and fat grams.
There is a difference between counting calories and slimming club numbers and the quantity of fat or sugar within a food item.
Often, people look at calories in terms of weight loss as there is no real connection between the health properties of a food and the calories it contains. The same is very much true for slimming club type numbers.
Fat grams or sugar grams infer some knowledge that may or may not impact our health.
But thereafter, I would advise really letting go of those numbers too. Once you have a basic understanding of the quantity of sugar in a latte or a snack bar, you’ve got a good basis to go by. If you don’t let go, you’ll find the number game controlling you again.