The first time I started counting calories was out of interest. I genuinely wanted to see how my calorie intake measured up against everybody else’s. Would it be way too much or too less? If you want to count calories you have to see how many calories are in those foods you’re eating on a daily basis. I sat with a notepad and googled all the calories in every food I’d eaten that day. It added up to 1500 or thereabouts. I freaked. I didn’t know a lot about how a person my ages calorie intake should be but seeing four digits just panicked me. I looked it up and realised that I was 500 calories under on that specific day. I tried adding up calories from the previous day and found that they varied, often reaching the average calorie intake or even tipping over. At this point I was totally unaware of BMI and how your height and muscle mass should affect your calorie intake, and assumed everybody eats the same amount every day. Honestly nothing significant happened that day, jotting down numbers next to every piece of food, doubles checking each time, it would appear. I wasn’t upset about how much I was eating and felt fine with how many calories I was intaking each day. Looking back, starting to count calories is like a drug. I started to look forward to it, genuinely being intrigued to know how much I’d eaten that day. I liked looking at different days and seeing how different the number at the bottom of each page was. I guess it creeps in, the idea to decrease that number. Slowly, if the number was higher than the day before, I’d sit staring at it, double checking my adding, and start to feel guilty. It’s subconscious the way it takes hold of you and you’re unaware that you’re restricting your calories. I started to obsess over keeping my calorie intake at less than 1500, then 1000. Every day I’d want to eat less than the day before and my intake of calories quickly decreased.
Calories can lie. I know it’s not what you probably want to hear but it’s true. A ‘slim fast protein bar’ that has a label screaming at you that it has ‘less than 50 calories’ actually has the same amount of processed fat as a plate of fries. Potatoes and Parsnips are low in calories but high in healthy saturated fats. Similarly, a piece of candy has a high percentage of sugar, but so does fruit. Obviously a piece of fruit and a Wham bar are extremely different – Fruit contains naturally occurring sugars, whereas a Wham bar is full of processed sugars. However, your body needs a little bit of that stuff every now and then – It’s all about balance.
I’m not sure if that was a clear way of showing how calories are not all there is to a food, but it worked for me so hopefully it does the same for somebody else. It’s tricky though. We live in a world that is fixtated on ‘Lower Calories’ and face it, whoever you are, if you’re choosing between the lower and higher calorie version of a food, you’re going to pick the lower! That is obviously a healthy choice but it’s crucial to be aware that not everything has been reduced, and some ingredients were probably increased. I actually recently stumbled across ‘Skinny Water’ .. Really?
Calories are always the most prominent measuring on any packaged food. They’re at the top and often enlarged. Sometimes they’re splattered over the packaging ’20 CALORIES IN EACH PIECE’. Escaping the concept of counting calories is an extremely difficult thing to achieve.
Once you write down the number of calories in a jacket potato, you always remember the number of calories in a jacket potato. Whenever you go to have one for lunch, it’s the first thing that pops into your head. Shaking it off isn’t simple, and it can often remind you of the controlling power that counting calories gave you. Counting calories for me, was a way to have control over a point in my life where I didn’t appear to have any.
Like I said, if you start counting calories you’re always going to want to decrease the amount you’re eating. People often question how somebody has got to eating no more than four hundred calories a day but the truth is that probably wasn’t always the case and they’ve probably gradually got to that point.
If you’re thinking of starting a food diary – Don’t. It can seem like a harmless idea, but it’s addicting and really really dangerous. It tricks you into thinking you have control when,really, it’s controlling you.
As always, stay strong and safe,
Featured image credit goes to – Little Resolutions