I successfully achieved my weight loss goal using the calorie counting method. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the calorie-counting prison for a long time. Let me explain to you how I escaped.
How To Stop Counting Calories Obsessively? You don’t have to always count calories; you have to be calorie-aware. Calorie-awareness is subconscious and doesn’t require all mental faculties i.e constant thinking. Realize that it is just a crutch and gradually you have to let it go and trust yourself.
You may say it is easier said than done. I agree. It has been almost 4 years since I achieved my weight loss goal and I have not counted calories for 3 years. On the contrary, I indulge more and still manage my weight. Let me tell you how I do it.
- You know the calorie-counting process
- You cook your own food or have cooked your food in the past
- In the past, you’ve measured your weight consistently over 6 months. If you’ve done this then you should understand that the spike or fluctuation in weight is normal and it usually remains stable in the long run, given you are not over or under eating.
My Journey – very briefly
I unsuccessfully tried multiple diets and techniques to lose weight. Then finally I arrived at the infamous calorie-counting method, again 😉 I was extremely apprehensive of it.
This time I took it seriously and it worked! Now I was able to enjoy any food while managing my weight. But then I got trapped in the calorie-counting prison.
The Calorie-Counting Prison
I could not eat any food without knowing the calories in it. If I did, I felt guilty and anxious.
My dear-ones had a tough time dealing with me. I was always lecturing them on the benefits of counting calories, driving them miserable.
Eating out was a nightmare. I always ate less and had to detox aka restrict food the next day. Not to mention, how I drove other normal eaters crazy at the table.
If I was not busy with a task, I was thinking of food and calories all the time.
I was bed-ridden with a terrible ailment. Now my mother was in charge of my food. And if you know Indian moms then you know how obedient they are.
Irrespective of my instructions she fed me the regular food. It drove me crazy. Karma!
It took me over 2 months to recover. And to my amazement, I hadn’t gained even a kilo of weight.
This forced me to think about what I did right. I realized I ate food by being calorie aware. And readers please note, I was not aware that I was being calorie-aware. It was subconscious. This was an epiphany!
How I moved from obsessive calorie-counting to being calorie-aware?
First, let’s understand what do I mean by being calorie-aware? I had counted calories for almost a year of the food that I ate. So subconsciously I knew the calorie content of the food by looking at it. By being calorie-aware, I stopped the manual counting of calories and trusted my judgment. This trusting of judgment is what I refer to as being calorie-aware.
Once I recovered from the ailment I did not return to the calorie-counting way of eating. Though, I always knew it would be my backup plan. This time I decided to be calorie-aware.
Earlier, the manual calorie-counting had resulted in two obsessive behaviors:
- To calculate calories each time I ate “known” food i.e. the food of which I’ve previously counted the calories.
- To not be able to savor “unknown” food i.e the new food of which I did not have the calorie count.
Overcoming the above two obsessive behaviors helped me move from the calorie-counting method to the being-calorie-aware method. Let us see how I did it.
How I managed obsessive behavior 1 i.e counting-calories of “known” food?
I learned to trust myself. I gave up on perfection and focussed on “being good enough”. Instead, of being 100% sure of the calories I allowed an error of +- 20%.
I stopped measuring food every time I cooked. This every-time-measuring was an obsessive behavior.
E.g. Earlier, every time I prepared a sandwich, I measured every ingredient every time. Later, I trusted myself and made the sandwich based on my judgment. Please keep in mind, that it was not a random judgment. I already knew the measurement but this time I did it without physically measuring it.
I already knew the calorie count of the ingredients and I only needed to trust myself. The feeling was similar to the feeling of taking off the training wheel or the crutch. You feel a little nervous in the beginning but soon you realize you can do it. That new feeling of freedom is unexplainable.
I continued cooking food without measuring it. I weighed myself twice a week. Thankfully, the weight remained stable with occasional spikes. And that is how it is to date (over 3 years).
Learning to trust yourself is the key to stop counting calories obsessively. Treat counting-calories as training wheels. Use it to understand what you eat and how much you eat, and once you get that you “get it” then let it go.
When you give up the crutch you don’t immediately start walking. You begin gradually and once you feel confident you increase the pace and finally return to the normal way of walking.
Similarly, don’t start to eat food in the usual way. In the beginning, be calorie-aware of what you are eating. Measure your weight twice a week. It should remain stable with the usual spikes. Do it for one month. If your weight has remained stable then you will automatically feel confident.
Learning to be calorie-aware is a skill in itself. You’ll develop it slowly by practicing it with each meal. What is calorie-awareness here? You avoid the tendency to use the food measuring scale or app and trust yourself (assuming you already have learned to count calories)
Steps to be calorie-aware:
- Learn the skill to count-calories manually
- Reach a point where you can literally know the calorie count of the food by looking at it
- Give up the manual counting of calories before you cook food and move to being calorie-aware (explained earlier)
- Measure your weight twice a week
- If your weight increases don’t panic
- Continue to cook without measuring
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 for a month; the weight will remain stable
Once you notice that your weight remains stable without you counting the calories, you’ll develop trust in yourself. And this is all that is needed to overcome the obsessive behavior.
Also remember, you already have the manual calorie-counting skill. So if your weight continues to increase then you can always fall back to counting calories manually again. I strongly believe this wouldn’t be the case if you have learned the calorie-counting technique properly. There would be another underlying reason for it. Please mail me and we can figure out the problem.
Shifting from counting-calories to being calorie-aware may be a leap of faith for you. But you have to take it. Else, you’ll be stuck in the calorie-counting prison and be miserable. By following the above steps I promise you’ll be free. Honestly, it isn’t a leap of faith. I have done it and can assure you that it works. Please give it a try.
I’ll not lie that I still subconsciously run the calorie-count to date. But it is very subtle and not obsessive behavior.
How I managed obsessive behavior 2 i.e. not savor “unknown” food?
The best way to overcome this obsessive behavior is to build momentum. For the first 67 days avoid eating out completely. Follow the strict calorie-counting process. This will build the healthy-eating momentum i.e. you are always eating healthy.
Then an occasional cheat or slip is not just normal but definitely recommended 😉
Geek Alert: Let me give you a personal epiphany here. The more momentum the more cheating you are allowed. For every 1 week of momentum you are allowed 1 cheat day. Now you can do the math. If you have built 4 weeks of momentum you can cheat for 4 days; for 15 days if you have 4 months. Let me be super honest but don’t tell anyone 😉 I cheat almost every alternate day and that too in a healthy way.
The obsessive behavior of counting-calories will be resolved once you learn the skill of being calorie-aware. This will help you to develop confidence in yourself.
The obsessive behavior of not being able to enjoy food without being aware of its calorie and nutrition will be resolved after you have developed sufficient healthy-eating momentum.
Once the aforementioned obsessive behaviours are resolved you will experience true freedom and eat like a normal person.
Kind request: I want to request you to have an open mind and give my program a try. I am not charging any fees for it. I genuinely want you to achieve your goal. At any point, if you face any problem in understanding the program please feel free to email me. I promise I’ll help you in every way to achieve your goal. Wish you the best. Happy Eating!