As someone who has struggled with multiple eating disorders, MyFitnessPal was my best ''pal'' for counting calories. It was like Instagram for me, I was constantly on the app, doing something. I would log my weight in the morning, every glass of water I drank during the day, and of course, all of my meals, by grams. Currently, I still have the app on my phone, but I do not log anything besides my weight monthly (full transparency here!). So how did I stop counting calories religiously?
1. Change doesn't happen overnight and that is alright!
It can be hard to suddenly stop counting calories. This habit didn't start overnight so it can be unrealistic to expect to stop overnight. There will be times you will be able to go on for days without counting. There will be times that you will have a slip-up and that is ALRIGHT. The most important thing is that you are doing your best! Celebrate small steps!
2. Get rid of your MyFitnessPal addiction (slowly).
When it comes to addiction to basically anything, it is usually advised to quit cold turkey, however, I do not believe this is the case for MyFitnessPal. Deleting MyFitnessPal and expecting to not think twice about it after so many years of monitoring your calories constantly is a bit unrealistic.
You probably already have been back and forth between the extremes of counting every single bite and not logging in to the app for several days so many times. If you get rid of the application immediately, you may be moving from one extreme to another. Quitting MyFitnessPal cold-turkey is no different than avoiding carbohydrates for several days, only to find yourself binging on pasta, pizza, and doughnuts for the next few weeks. Just like a very strict diet, the sudden drastic restriction only results in binging on the forbidden. Slowly decrease your logging activity. You can first stop logging in your dinner, then your snacks. After a while, you can stop logging anything altogether.
I know what you are thinking now…
3. ''But I know the calories by heart!''
When you count calories long enough, you memorize the calories of the foods that you frequently consume. Even without the app, you can probably roughly estimate the calories of meals just by looking at them. But there is a solution for that too!
When you catch yourself calculating calories in your mind, find a nice way to distract yourself. It can be listening and singing along to your favorite songs, watching (funny, interesting) videos, putting on podcasts, going out to the shops, or simply talking to someone. By distracting yourself before and after eating; I promise you, after a while, you will forget the calories or at least, beat the habit of automatically calculating them in your head.
4. ''But there are food labels everywhere!''
There will still be food labels everywhere and unfortunately, that is out of our control. But we can find small ways to be less exposed to them. You can peel off the labels and put your food in jars. You can go to the supermarket with someone to spend less time checking the labels. If you do not find it stressful, you can ask for someone else to cook for you.
5. Practice asking yourself ''What would satisfy me right now?''
When you count calories, food becomes only numbers and you lose touch with your bodily signals. When you feel hungry, ask yourself: ''What will satisfy me the most?'' and ''What am I craving right now?'' instead of looking at the nutritional labels or logging food on MyFitnessPal. A nice trick I use is to vividly imagine how different kinds of food would look like, how they would smell, and how they would taste in my mouth. I also think of the aftermath of my meal and look for the answer to the question ''Which meal will have me leaving the table satisfied?''.
6. Daily affirmations.
Repeat out loud positive affirmations about your body daily!
''My body knows how to handle food''
''My body is capable of amazing things''
''My body is wise''
''I eat to be nourished''
''I deserve to have a life without food restrictions''
7. Think about what calorie counting is distracting you from.
Sometimes counting calories obsessively can be a coping mechanism that we use. We may find it easier to focus on the numbers instead of dealing with certain situations. We may use it to regulate intense emotions. Take a step back and try to understand what it helps you ''cope'' with. Here are some helpful questions:
When do you feel it more severely?
What are your triggers?
What can you do to cope with that in a better way?
8. Finally, don't forget that you can always ask for help.
It may sound 'simple' but quitting calorie counting is quite tough. Most of the time, it is a manifestation of a more deeply rooted problem, in the form of addiction and a part of an eating disorder. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you feel stuck.
Thank you for sharing, I found this entry very helpful! My biggest struggle is to not count calories on the days I consider i ate "bad food"