A month ago I wrote a post called Safety In Numbers: Calorie Obsession in which I declared myself to be giving up calorie counting because it had gone to a scary, unhealthy place for me.
It was easy to write but so difficult to post, because I didn’t want y’all to feel like I’d misled you in anyway, or that you’d been ‘duped’ by the way I approached food. I think I’ve always tried to come from an honest place. [When I lived in Austin, I was MUCH more flexible and carefree about eating and tasting everything I came across, which I think was obvious then.]
I was also nervous about being judged, but I’ve been surprised to have so many people express via comments or private emails that they have struggled–or are struggling–with very similar issues, and thankful at everyone–including Jenn, for reminding us all every week that W.I.A.W. isn’t about judgement– who has been supportive of my quest to cut the calorie counting out of my life.
So, one month later, how am I doing?
I’d be a big fat liar if I said I didn’t still count things up in my head, or that there have been nights–generally in the first week or so–that I lay in bed, trying to go back through the day and tally up every single thing I ate.
Realizing I forgot about a half an apple here or some extra bites from a recipe there is a moment of fist-pumping success.
Running back into my office after a faculty meeting and trying to scribble down everything I just ate–after mentally patting myself on the back for abandoning my planned, “I know how many calories are in this” snack for the offerings on the community table–was a minor setback.
I think the mental tallying is going to be there in some form, if not forever, then for a very long time.
The key, I’m learning, is to know it doesn’t matter.
I have not logged a single day’s worth of calories on My Fitness Pal. This was probably a whole lot easier for me to do than it might have been for some other people. I didn’t have to delete it, I just no longer used it to track every single bite that went into my mouth.
I have, however, had moments of weakness where I wondered just how many calories was in cooked brown rice, or an avocado, or something, and I did do a search within the application. This has happened less than five times in a month, though, so either my own mental calorie encyclopedia is astoundingly diverse, or I’m learning not to care. [I hate that it might still be the former...]
I have also plugged in recipes to get a relative idea of how many calories were in a soup I threw together or a dip I made, telling myself I “just want to see…”
One lightbulb I had was that dividing a recipe so strictly really doesn’t make sense when it is something chock full of ingredients. Who is to say that the cup of stew you happen to measure out won’t have more beans or greens than another? Silly, really.
I’ve been loosening up on measuring the cereal into my bowl, and have focused on just eyeballing portion sizes.
I’ve only broken out the scale for Nutty Butter measurements and protein powder.
I’m actually OK with measuring out portions, as long as I’m not uptight about it. Weighing pear slices, ten blueberries, or LETTUCE was what started to scare me.
I still have had moments where my stomach is growling and I’m thinking, “Should I eat this? Or should I eat that?” But I’m starting to get to a place again where I can just….eat.
With that freedom comes
responsibility occasional stress, however.
I’m still struggling a bit with saying, “I’m still hungry” and then eating more during the day. For some reason at night I don’t have as much of an issue. Maybe because during the day I feel like there might be a giant cake in my future, so I need to save calories for it or something? [There is never a giant cake. Unless I suddenly get the urge to bake one.]
It is amazing how much time I was wasting trying to log everything accurately and completely, and sometimes even logging in a potential future meal, then deleting it all to see if a different choice would be “better.” It was a crazy gamethat, unlike, say Words With Friends, did not leave me in a more enlightened mental place.
My goal right now is to continue breaking away from the ‘same old, same old’ routine of the foods that I always eat and know exactly how they stack up numbers-wise. It sounds silly, but even abandoning my oatmeal one or two mornings has been HUGE.
After school snacks are a bit more adventurous again, because I’m less concerned with them fitting into my subconsciously alloted calorie count.
[Not that I'm not still struggling with not TRYING to count...]
Not that there’s anything wrong with a little food fixation, as long as you really DO like eating it, and actually want it.
One of my friends, who has struggled with ED, said to me, “Eating should be easy.”
And it should. And it’s getting to be again.