How I Stopped Counting Calories - Gillan Elizabeth
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how i stopped counting calories - gillian elizabeth

How I Stopped Counting Calories

The other day someone said to me “wow I just saw the trailer on Netflix for the movie To The Bone. I can’t believe how she knew the calories to every food.” My response was “I used to know every calorie too.”

When I was struggling with the diet cycle and anorexia I knew the calorie to every. single. food. That’s typically just how it is. You want to be in complete control and part of that is knowing the exact number of calories in every food, especially just in case you end up in a situation where you can’t look at the package before eating. I remember spending countless hours researching foods. After years of this it becomes like an internal catalogue that you can flip through in order to make your food choices.

When I made the commitment to stop counting calories and start eating intuitively I knew that I would have to let go of this internal catalogue. I gradually shifted my focus from “how many calories are in this food?” to “how will this food make me feel?” With this shift in focus I noticed that I started to eat more whole foods because (naturally) they make me feel better. It’s kind of funny to think about how in the past I would turn down eating a banana and instead eat some highly processed crackers because they had less calories. Do you see the error in this method of madness?

Another change I noticed after I stopped calorie counting is that I started going to individually owned restaurants instead of solely going to branch food chains. I frequented these bigger companies not because the food was better (or even good at times) but because the nutrition facts menu was easily available online. Until I went to Harvey’s the other night, prompted by a random veggie burger craving, I totally forgot about the new law that calories have to be posted on menus. Fortunately, I have come a long way since my eating disorder struggles so I didn’t even think to look at how many calories were in the food I was ordering. But for those of you still struggling with giving up counting calories I can appreciate the fact that this makes it extremely difficult to eat freely. Say you go to a restaurant, you haven’t looked up the nutrition facts menu before going and you step in ready to eat whatever your intuition guides you to. Then as the menu is handed to you, you look down only to find that what you really want is 1,300 calories. This can radically change your perspective towards food and alter your mood. You may have went from feeling good and guided to instantly feeling guilty and deprived by instead choosing a lower calorie option such as a salad. In times like these take a few deep breaths and try to reconnect to what your intuition is telling you. Your body holds wisdom that your mind isn’t aware of. It knows what you need to be well and that is what it is constantly trying to do. Your intuition will continue to guide you towards foods that are going to bring balance to your body.

Releasing the grips of control around food can create some anxiety in and of itself so remember that your body knows what it’s doing! The main reason you gain excess weight is because you are not listening to your body’s natural cues for hunger and satiety. Here are a few tips to keep you in check with your body’s natural signals:

  • eat mindfully
  • recognize hunger and eat when you’re hungry
  • recognize satisfaction and stop when you feel satisfied
  • stop weighing yourself
  • release expectation about how much you believe you should eat in a day
  • change your routine around meal time with my workbook Break Up With Your Diet
  • let go of “good” or “bad” foods
  • give yourself enough time to eat
  • practice self-care


A side effect of releasing this calorie counting habit is that you will have a lot of open space in your mind. You may notice things pop up that you didn’t realize were bothering you because you have been distracting yourself by controlling your food. This can be very difficult and it’s important to have a strong support system to work through everything. If you don’t feel comfortable with those around you I would love to provide support and guidance for you, feel free to contact me about registering for my wellness coaching program.


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