Updated: Jan 26
We are all influenced by calories, often without realising. Here's my qualitative research on how to beat obsessive calorie counting
Calories are everywhere.
It is a legal requirement for manufacturers to produce food labels listing nutritional information on their product packets, but when did it become a necessity to list the calories in bubbles, clouds or have a halo rising above the low number?
Whether we like to admit it or not, when we peruse the aisle of supermarkets, most people draw their eyes to the calories and decide what food to purchase and eat based on the number, or at the very least the colour of the calorie counter.
In restaurants, it is well known that when menus include calories next to the dish, consumers are more self-conscious in their decision on what to eat.
But it is not healthy to be heavily influenced by a number. In fact, there are many options to consider when achieving food freedom or losing weight, not just calorie counting.
So, if you want to beat obsessive calorie counting, here are 6 ways to stop worrying about calories and restore your relationship with food.
Tip 1: Practice self-worth and compassion
Research suggests that people who have self-worth and practice self-compassion are not only more successful and happy, but they’re also more resilient. It is important to note that self-compassion and self-kindness doesn’t mean letting yourself off the hook and living without a moral compass, but it is about being kind to yourself and understanding what is good enough for you. It is so much better, and healthier, to not aim for perfection which doesn’t exist. What’s crucial is finding what feels right for you, who you are and not what you should be, or what somebody else wants you to be.
Tip 2: Stop the negative talk!
I am sure you know that negative self-talk and stress can be extremely damaging, so why do so many people still do it? When you’re finding things to criticise about yourself and put yourself down, it is like living with a bully 24/7. There are numerous studies which show that emotional overeating and negative self-talk are not uncommon partners. Overeating, or binge eating is often used when the mind and body seek comfort because of the negative self-talk and stress. Thus, food becomes a coping mechanism and emotional eating becomes an unconscious habit.
Tip 3: Practice a positive mindset
A positive mindset and self-talk are key to success in any situation, and the good news is that both mindset and positive can be learned and practised. Consistently envisioning success and using problems as learning opportunities can help you to alter your mindset and give you the mental strength to use positive self-talk when you need it. Try using affirmations such as "I am doing my best" to begin learning how to use positive self-talk and start strengthening your mindset today.
Tip 4: Ditch the stress
Everyone has some level of stress in their life, so you’ll never avoid stress forever (if you do, let me know your secret!) To top things off, the past two years have gone lightning fast, sometimes I still think we’re in 2019!
But the more stress we have, the more we set ourselves up for failure when it comes to our body goals! That is why reducing stress should be a priority. A great way to reduce stress is to move your body, try some meditation, or anything else that can help you clear your mind and get you to relax.
The more stress we have, the more we set ourselves up for failure when it comes to our body goals. Reducing stress should be a priority.
Tip 5: Try journaling
Journaling is incredibly underrated. I always encourage my clients to try journaling, and I am often met with some type of resistance; either some don’t see the point, while others worry they’re not good enough at writing.
Let’s start with the first obstacle: the point of journaling is that it evokes mindfulness which helps you remain present while keeping perspective. It is also an opportunity for introspection; to recognise your feelings and regulate your emotions.
The beauty of journaling is that it doesn’t have to be perfect or poetic because it is for your eyes only! You can use the journal to look back at your journey and to recognise your patterns, such as what happened during the day that might have triggered obsessive calorie counting.
Tip 5: Create a morning routine
Morning routines for some sound amazing, but for others they can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By routine, I don’t mean planning your every move between 6:30 am and 9:15pm, what I mean is introduce things into your mornings that will help you start your day in the best and most positive way possible.
This can be a mindful five minutes when you wake up to clear your thoughts and take note of how your body, emotion, mind and soul feels today. It could be 15 minutes of yoga to stretch out anxiety, or it could be writing in your journal about your stresses of yesterday, or the goals you have for the day ahead.
By creating a realistic morning routine and sticking to it, you will be able to create a habit. A healthy habit will set you up on the right path to succeed at anything in life.
If meditation or mindfulness is something you would like to explore, I’ve created a 10-minute meditation and mindfulness affirmation audio to add to your morning routine. It can help you set healthy habits while you begin to heal your relationship with yourself and food. You can click here to purchase the audio today.