Counting Calories Versus Mindful Eating

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about counting calories. I’ve heard some people say that losing weight is simple math – burn more calories than you eat! Seems easy enough! However, as most people who have tried to lose weight know – nothing comes easy. Especially weight loss.

There are several problems with this approach to food. First, everyone burns calories differently. We all have those friends who can seemingly eat whatever they want, do no exercise, and never gain a pound. This is frustrating for people who seem to gain weight if they even look at a cookie! Yes, they may be consuming the same amount of calories each day, but their bodies burn them off at a different rate. Technically, the naturally thin person is burning off more calories than the person who struggles. How do you measure this? How do you figure out how many calories a typical person burns each hour, by doing different activities? It is nearly impossible! There really is no “typical” person, so an accurate calculation is very difficult to achieve. Even if you exercise on a machine that claims to count calories burned, it is only providing a general estimate. It isn’t a very accurate count.

On the flip side, calculating calories “in,” can be even harder. What if you have a large apple instead of a small one? How do you exactly measure a serving size? Also, the software used to calculate calorie counts on labels is often flawed and outdated. These little variances can cause calorie estimates to vary by the hundreds, if not more!

So what is a calorie counter to do? Certainly don’t give up. Many studies say that keeping a food diary is extremely helpful. Whether or not you’re actually writing down your caloric intake, the fact that you are recording everything you eat will cause you to examine your food patterns. You can identify days and times when you might be overeating and figure why and how to stop. Also, if you track your food, you might realize you’ve eaten more than you thought on a given day and have a lighter dinner.

You can also try to mindfully approach food, instead of worrying about calories. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry. Seek out whole grain, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. However, this can be really hard for some people, and true mindful eating can take a while to master. In the meantime, try a journal! Don’t stress too much about exact calories. Instead, look for habits and trends. You might start seeing some fast results!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!