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Six Reasons I Hate Calorie Counting and Don’t Do It

Robyn Openshaw, MSW - Feb 13, 2017 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Calorie Counting

Goodbye to Calorie Counting

When I changed my diet to eating whole, plant-based foods, I said goodbye to calorie counting forever.

By eating 60-80% raw, 95% whole, plant-based foods, I don’t need to count calories.

I don’t think it’s a complete waste, my years of obsession with calories when I was young. Because it’s helpful to know what the foods are, that are very high in food energy but low in nutrition.

But ultimately, focusing on calories won’t get you what you want.

Why Calorie Counting Doesn’t Work

  1. It’s unsustainable. Nobody does it long-term. Because it’s boring, tedious, restrictive, and stressful. It also leads to an unhealthy way of looking at food, creating fear through measurement.  It doesn’t address the true reasons you are probably overeating, which can run the gamut from poor nutrition to boredom to trauma to hormones to screwed-up hunger cues.
  1. calorie counting on pre-packaged foodsIt has a tendency to cause you to eat packaged foods, which are almost always processed.  It’s a head game, though. They’re packaging small portions, or using fake foods to lower calories or fat. In fact, this can be self-defeating. Because the lowest calorie, highest-nutrition foods don’t come in packages at all.
  1. You can’t nail down how many calories you actually need, and software predictions of how many you need are inaccurate. Some days it’s many hundreds of calories higher than other days, depending on how many hours you were awake, or how much physical activity you did. I believe assigning a rigid number to any given day leads calorie-counters to feel shame, which affects their natural enjoyment for food and some their decision-making freedom.
  1. Calorie counts on charts are inaccurate. A variety of factors affect how many calories are in any given piece of food, and there’s much you don’t know about the supply chain and the ingredients. You don’t know how much your chicken breast weighs. And if you’re actually WEIGHING it, well, my Reason #1 applies, above.
  1. “A calorie is a calorie is a calorie” is a lie! The Oxford-Cornell China Project is the biggest nutrition study in history. Studying 6,500 people in 65 counties of China, the researchers learned that plant eaters can eat 200 calories a day more than meat eaters, and stay thin!If your friend ate 500 calories less than you, but it was Skittles and a white-bread ham sandwich, but you actually ate more calories in that meal, but it was whole, raw, plant foods, you’re still the winner. Not only in your overall health, aging, and energy—but very possibly in weight maintenance as well!

high fiber foods

  1. Counting calories creates a bunny trail, potentially keeping you ironically further from good health. People do programs like Weight Watchers, where junk food is totally endorsed, and all food is equal, but is just assigned points. I’d rather have you focus on eating nutrient dense foods. Greens. Vegetables. Fruit. Legumes. Healthy fats. Nuts and Seeds. All of these have a dramatic effect on weight and health.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if the insanities of the modern age just breed more insanities. Can you imagine cavemen counting calories? The whole outrage is simply an outgrowth of the processed food diet. If we eliminate processed food, we don’t have to invent silly counting programs.

Check out my VIDEO classes on why FOOD and not CALORIES should be your focus.

How simple shifts, one at a time, can help you beat addictions, ditch inflammation, heal your gut, and think more clearly.  And won’t break the bank!

Watch one of the videos, or all of them–sign up here and I’ll send you the link!


Posted in: Exercise, Healthy Weight, Lifestyle, Mind/Body Connection, Whole Food

5 thoughts on “Six Reasons I Hate Calorie Counting and Don’t Do It”

Leave a Comment
  1. Annette says:

    Robyn, this was a fabulous article! Thank you for writing this because I just had a friend ask me as I was going through this last detox, “How many calories are you consuming?’ I told her I had no clue and while it’s a bit less than normal, even when I eat my every day food, I don’t worry about counting calories since plant-based foods carry all the healthy calories I need. Instinctually, I know what calories I need by paying attention to what I eat with plant-based foods and listening to my body on the days I work-out harder. I can enjoy eating my food and that is freedom. 😀

  2. Ingrid Palet says:

    Hey Robin, this is so true, I truly like your blog. I wish this information was continuously viewed on all television channels especially during dinner time and prime time.

  3. vande1b says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I have been doing a plant based diet now for the month of January and it has been going great. The only problem is I am training for a Marathon and I find it really hard to get enough protein. I know if this a ‘common’ misconception but I would say 5/7 days I can do it but the other 2 days, I really struggle, especially if I am sick of eating beans all the time. Any advice? Any suggestions? Thanks you, Rebecca

  4. Shannon says:

    Thank you for this! I was sucked into the counting calories craze and I just can’t get on top of it. I make most of my food home made and I like to add a lot of different items in one meal i.e. salads, stir frys. But if I say I added a carrot to my stir fry, but only ate 3 bites of a carrot then how many calories is that? Thank you again. I feel this huge weight off my shoulders!

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