I Don’t Call It Dieting, I Just Call It Attention, So Should YOU!

I started counting calories again today.

Even the phrase ‘counting calories’ tends to elicit an extreme response from the general public, especially people who are not particularly health-conscious (no pressure, no judgement, just saying.) I remember in college I was sitting with a friend explaining how my old Wingstop order (ten piece boneless combo half Louisiana dry-rub and half Atomic with bleu cheese dressing and a root beer, mind you) had over 2,000 calories, which is more calories than one needs in an entire day.

The friend in question did say “Oh, wow…” but when I mentioned how I was counting my calories to actually understand in real time what I was consuming, she just shook her head and said, “You don’t have to do that.”

I understand the reaction of my friend. When you hear “counting calories” it tends to sound threatening and rather extreme because there are very few ways in which we can see health consciousness in the public sphere that isn’t warped in a fun house mirror to extreme extents. Sure, fashion and gossip magazines discuss dieting ALWAYS, but it is never in ways that equate to normalcy of life with an extra kick of awareness. And on the more extreme spectrum is hearing ‘counting calories’ and assuming one is taking caloric intake to the limit and obsessing over numbers so deeply it becomes a disorder.

When I say ‘counting calories,’ I simply mean paying attention to serving sizes. Measuring out cheese or cereal in a cup to make sure I’m not overdoing it. Guestimating that my toast this morning was 110 calories a slice and huh, my mini-pizza and granola bar breakfast was about 600 calories, which a good breakfast size, right on!

I do want to lose some weight. I lost 30 pounds in the past 10 months (give or take a few lbs) by counting–per my nutritionist life partner, to lose 2 pounds a week you eat 1,700-1,750 calories. I can’t explain the science of it, but it works. Don’t count fruits or vegetables, those are plentiful (I do count avocados, though. They’re pretty rich). I guess what I’m trying to express is that it’s difficult to discuss wanting to lose some weight that I do need to lose without sounding obsessive just by using a term.

New Orleans allows me a lot of leisure in the kinds of foods I can eat and drink on a regular basis. If I want to take care of myself in the long haul and invest in my body, I have to do it on my terms without feeling judged for doing so. Through counting I truly feel empowered and understand how much I am eating and what I am eating that is particularly rich or excessive. Plus, I truly don’t feel limited–I still eat spaghetti and chips but also eat hella oranges and kale smoothies too.

SO, if you hear any scrutiny in your circle about counting, just call it ‘paying attention,’ because that’s all it really is.

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13 thoughts on “I Don’t Call It Dieting, I Just Call It Attention, So Should YOU!

  1. I love this, I think there’s too much bad context around the word diet and watching what you eat, but actually in today’s world it’s very necessary for everybody to be in one diet or another depending on body shape and size. However, I’m not a fan of calorie counting! Calories may measure the same in different foods but are processed very differently when they’re in your body. It’s important to consider the other nutritional information of what you’re eating (saturated fat, sugar, salt etc.) when you’re following a healthy diet! Good luck ❀

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    1. I totally agree–my boyfriend is in nutrition and it’s amazing seeing him react to food labels sometimes, i.e. “OMG THERE IS AS MUCH SALT IN THIS AS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN A DAY” “THAT ROOT BEER FROM WINGSTOP HAS FIFTY GRAMS OF SUGAR?!” Just examples, but I agree it is so important. I’m still learning to grasp all of the extra information on food labels and trying to figure out exactly how much one should be receiving of those figures in a day. Isn’t it crazy how the average person simply doesn’t know?!?

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  2. Funny enough I was just writing about this because I ABSOLUTELY agree. I’m lucky enough to have been pretty fit for most of my life. But that has meant that I’ve kept really bad food habits from when I was younger and I’m only just learning to let them go. Counting calories gives me a lot more awareness, so even if I do decide to have a massive burger or fry up, it’s with my eyes wide open and I’m more likely to make healthier choices! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

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    1. Of course! I totally feel trying to outgrow bad eating habits from childhood–I’m still in the process of trying to eat a serving size of chips and not an entire bag when I buy it. In my soul I’m still about 12 πŸ˜‰ However, counting helps!!

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  3. Awesome! I love the term “paying attention”. It really is a non-threatening term with a focus on awareness of what your taking in. I feel like “diet” can be taken in many different ways. Diet in the dictionary is the kinds of foods someone eats but on social media the word diet has a completely different meaning.

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    1. I completely agree! It’s so crazy to me that simple awareness of what you are ingesting is misconstrued. However, one big update that is apparently happening soon is that nutrition labels are going to be edited to take into account a person’s actual portion size. As in, when you buy a bag of chips it’s usually 140~ cals in a serving size of like 12 chips (?!) but who eats 12 chips when they eat chips?? With making serving sizes bigger one would be able to see “Oh damn, an actual amount of what I’ll eat is 500 calories, steering clear…” Or what have you. Just some thoughts! πŸ™‚

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