It starts off innocently enough.
As anyone who is anyone even somewhat educated in healthy eating knows, reading nutritional labels is the first step to making smart choices in your diet.
Then you might start to wonder about foods without nutritional labels.
The discrepancies you find won’t bother you. For the most part, you’ll believe what you read.
You’ll start to build up a miniature warehouse of knowledge about everything you are eating: which foods will give you iron and calcium, which ones will raise or lower cholesterol, which foods have the ‘healthy fats’ that your body needs.
And you’ll also start to memorize–unwittingly, perhaps–calories.
It won’t take over your life or anything.
As a food blogger, you also consider yourself a recipe developer. You’ll probably start to wonder about the nutritional content of your own recipes.
Those apps also let you track your daily caloric intake.
Again, the discrepancies among contributions to the site/app won’t matter. They’ll give you at least a general idea of what you are eating.
As though what you are eating is a number.
After all, as anyone who is anyone studying healthy eating knows–yet again–developing a sense of portion control is crucial to well-being, right?
No way of knowing exactly what you are taking in–I mean, aside from what the food is of course–and you won’t get too caught up in it at the time. You’ll still enjoy every bite of bacon, every tantalizing sweet treat.
But later…later, you’ll make some guesses. You’ll try to figure out what you ate, and how much of it.
It will become like a little game. A numbers game. And you always loved math.*
And when you think that a kitchen scale will be a brilliant gift–after all, don’t all healthy foodies have one?–you’ll start to measure more than just ingredients for recipes.
Grams and ounces, ounces and grams.
But you’re not.
Or you shouldn’t be.
So it’s not a problem, right?
But you’ll always fall back on the safety in numbers.
But it is a false sense of security. (What do all those numbers REALLY mean?) And one that can get a little out of control.
You’ll know it’s time to change when you don’t even want to scrape off the most delicious part of a loaf of cranberry orange bread from the plate because you wonder if you should be trying to record it.Or when you find yourself throwing a few chunks of roasted rutabaga or a couple of blueberries on the scale, ‘just to see how much they weigh.’
And you’ll say to yourself, repeatedly, for months, “I really don’t need to be keeping track of what I’m eating so rigidly.” But you won’t stop.
It’s an addiction. And not a healthy one.
So. The counting? The tracking? For me, it has to stop.