I’ve stopped counting calories

December 12, 2007

I’ve stopped calorie counting.

I’ve been counting calories since I’ve been back on track (this is now the 6th week back on track). It wasn’t so much a decision to count calories as a decision to use an online food journal which automatically gives you the calorie counts. Still, an old-hand at dieting like me can’t sit in front of this kind of program and not see the totals for each day and try to stick to a similar range of calories.

Since I’ve been seeing Dr Hope I’ve been doing both the online thing PLUS a paper journal (with the columns to note where I ate, what I was doing, how I felt etc, along with what I ate).

I started to realize that maybe I should stop with the online journal the other day when I felt I had had enough to eat but I’d already marked that I ate a certain amount of the food in my online diary. Eventually reason won out and I didn’t keep eating just because I had written it down, but the incident did make me think. I’ve also noticed that sometimes I’ll eat more or an extra snack because I know I have the calories available for the day. That’s not listening to your hunger and paying attention to satisfaction, it’s nuts.

Bear in mind that I”m not even really actively dieting – just trying to get myself back on track a little, and the calorie target I’ve been working with is rather high.

All this behavior is deeply ingrained from years and years of dieting.

So for the past few days I’ve only been keeping the paper journal. At meals I try to think about how hungry I am, what I feel like eating, do I enjoy the tastes, and when can I stop eating.

Paying attention to food in this way is very new and quite hard for me. I’m also starting to think that it’s pretty opposite of the calorie-counting approach, and so in order to really give it the effort it deserves, I can’t be trying to do the new thinking while still secretly clinging to the old. Dr Hope didn’t know about the electronic food journal, because I was pretty sure she wouldn’t approve.

I confessed on Saturday when I saw her. Told her I’d been doing it, and that I was stopping. She was very supportive, as I expected. She called calorie counting and other types of counting or allowance dieting systems “accounting” and I thought that was interesting. It’s true that it puts a huge focus on food and what you’re allowed or supposed to have. I do think I think more about food when I’m dieting than when I’m free-for-all-ing.

I’m going to try the Dr Hope approach from now until January. No more diet software. Just the archaic paper journal … AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINKING.

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