30 Dec 2010

Numbers, numbers everywhere.......

Calorie counting - a lot of us do it. But we do it to varying degrees. For me, it became a kind of obsession for many years. At the peak of my calorie-counting-mania (around this time last year) I kept a detailed journal detailing the calorie content of every scrap of food or drink that passed my lips. It lasted for months. If I wasn't sure of the calorie content of something, I'd look it up online. When I started seeing a therapist, one of the things she asked me to do was calculate how much time I spent looking up nutritional content online. On bad days, it could be up to 4 hours! I would add up the total points for each day before bed time, but I'd regularly 'check-in' over the course of the day to make sure I wasn't going above my self-imposed 1,000 - 1,200 calorie limit. Even worse, I'd get competitive with myself. In the same way that marathon runners try to beat their own best time, I would try to beat my lowest calorie intake. 

Thanks to therapy and hard work I managed to get my behaviour under control. But 'under control' is not the same as 'gone'. 'Under control' is good enough for my therapist but not for me. I don't want calorie counting to play any part in my daily life and my food choices anymore, because I know its preventing me from making healthy food choices that respect what my body needs. But unfortunately my internal calorie calculator has not been totally switched off yet. When you've counted calories for as long as I have, it becomes second nature: something you do without thinking. I'll often be day-dreaming, letting my mind wander (last thing at night, for example, or when I'm walking to the shops) and suddenly realise I've accurately calculated my calorie consumption for that day. And, once I have that information, I find it very difficult not to start worrying or obsessing about it - deciding I've either eaten too little or too much based purely on the numbers, no matter how full or empty I feel, and then making 'action plans' to compensate later by eating more/less. Years of calorie counting also means that I now have a pretty good memory of the calorie content of most foods and I find it very hard not to make food choices based on that, even though I know that's not the healthiest way to be. I also find it difficult not to check the labels on food and not to let the numbers influence whether I eat it or not. I know that this is not a way to be healthy or happy, but how do you break the habit of a lifetime (almost)? If you have any hints and tips, or have your own calorie counting stories, please share them with me.........

1 comment:

  1. I have the exact same experience with calorie counting but I am stuck in the stage of being completely obsessive about it. How were you able to let go of it even a little bit?