Saturday, November 3, 2007

Thoughts on Counting Calories

My overall thought: it sucks. Food is social, food is nourishing, food is comforting, food is pleasant, food is culturally significant, food is health. Food is, in a word, complex. So why are we so fixated on reducing it to a numerical value? Nothing is worse than wanting an apple and not eating it because it'll put you over your caloric limit for the day. Wait, I take that back--what's worse is eating the apple because you want the apple, and then feeling like shit for eating an apple. That feeling really sucks.

That said, calorie counting is, at times, useful. I personally managed to screw up my hunger signals with years of an on-and-off eating disorder, and an inconsistent college schedule to boot. I count calories--not because I want to, but because it's a knee-jerk reaction to eating for me. As stated above: it sucks. The upside, though, is that when your hunger signal are as messed up as mine are, calorie counts can help you figure out when to eat. Eating because I'm lonely or unhappy can easily lead to a binge for me (which, in turn, leads to several days of unhealthy behavior), and roughly estimating how many calories I've consumed helps me to figure out if I'm eating because I'm hungry, or eating for emotional reasons. On the flip side, there are days when I just don't feel that hungry (like I said, my hunger signals = weird), and when I realize that it's 6 PM and I've only eaten 700 calories during the day, knowing that I need to sit down to a nice big meal, stat, or risk slow my already-confused metabolism, is a good thing.

So, I guess where I'm going with this is that I'm reticent to provide calorie counts for recipes, but I will (sometimes). But please, use them as help, not as torture. Use, don't abuse.

1 comment:

Sarena Shasteen said...

I have to say that I am so with you on this post! Most people don't get that about me. I come from a long line of obsessive compulsive calorie counters. We all have our reasons that stem from our younger days. I am one that will not eat enough calories if I don't keep track of them. I eat in increments throughout the day and I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables that are always fresh and very little calories, so I have to make sure that I get enough. Thanks for posting on this. It is nice to know there are others out there that are like me in this!