The reason why people worry about calories is that they believe that eating high-calorie foods is bad, shameful, and will make them fat. They also believe that food is either good or bad, and the way they distinguish the difference is by the number of calories.
They think that they should only be eating low-calorie foods to stay lean, and should not be eating fattening foods. Which is a big mistake. Because this mindset not only creates worries around food and calories. But it also disconnect us from the pleasure of eating, and makes our relationship with food based on the arbitrary rules.
In this article, I will explain what happens when you worry about calories and give you clear instructions on how to stop worrying about calories.
How To Stop Worrying About Calories?
Here I have a list of 8 ways to stop worrying about calories and start to restore your relationship with food once and for all. By the end of this article, you should already realize that calorie is just the number that you shouldn’t obsess about.
Self-compassion is an essential skill for success with any weight loss journey, but it’s hard to do. Research from neuroscience and psychology shows that people who practice self-compassion not only get more done but are also able to sustain their work, despite any setbacks.
Self-compassion and self-kindness are not letting yourself off the hook and living without any moral compass. It is being kind to yourself and understanding that good enough is better than trying to be perfect.
It is focusing on the process and finding the strategy to get things done in a way that aligns with who you’re, not would you should or should not be.
Stop Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk, stress, and dwelling on negative thoughts can literally cause brain damage. When you’re focused on what’s wrong (rather than on what’s right) and judging yourself you can’t think straight. Every time when you’re criticizing yourself is like having a bully behind your back.
A number of studies show that negative self-talk is not only worse than physical stress, but it also leads to addiction.
Negative self-talk stimulates basal ganglia in the brain that release dopamine. This means when you’re self-criticizing yourself, it triggers the reward pathways that lead to habit formation.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Do you wanna know what differentiates top-performing athletes from amateurs? It’s not the talent. It’s not the intelligence. It’s not luck. It’s the mindset, mental strength, and positive self-talk.
Positive self-talk is the opposite from self-criticism.
Mental strength is when you’re scared, but you tried something new anyway. It’s when you fell down, but they got back up. It’s when you stayed positive in the negative situation.
It’s when you didn’t want to do something, but you did it anyway. It’s about doing when you’re uninspired to do it.
The good news is that mental strength and positive self-talk can be trained, just like you train your biceps.
Consistently visualizing success, use setbacks as learning opportunities, and becoming a problem-solving person who doesn’t hide from challenges, but runs toward them will change your mindset and give you the mental strength in the times when you need them.
Stress is the wallpaper of the 21st century. It is omnipresent. Every single person has some levels of stress. Everyone is busy, rushed, and crunched with time. Stress makes the world goes smaller.
But more stress can also hijack your body composition goals. This means the more you stress, the more likely you will fall off the wagon, and worry about your results.
So reducing stress should be one of the goals on your to-do list. It will reduce your cortisol and help with thinking straight. The simple ways to unplug and reduce stress are strenuous exercise, walk in the park, mediation, or getting a dog.
Use Worry Journal
Having a journal where you can write down everything that is on your mind helps to dumb all the worries and clean your mental inbox. How to identify worries? They usually come with “what if”, followed by “then”.
What if I don’t lose weight, then it means I’m a failure.
What if I don’t follow with the plan, then it means I shouldn’t even start.
What if I will be hungry later, then I will feel uncomfortable.
The most fascinating thing about using worries journal is you will clearly see how all those worries involve all-or-nothing thinking. They also involve a lot of assumptions and beliefs, usually irrational. And the more you write them down, you will let go of those worries.
There are plenty of ways to skin the cat.
This means counting calories isn’t the only way to get lean.
There are several articles on this blog where I explain in-depth how to stop counting calories and still get fantastic results.
This involves mindfulness, intuitive eating, and being present in the moment. This type of approach helps you with reducing the food you eat, without giving up some of your favorite foods. No calculator needed.
Start Morning Ritual
In the morning ritual, you can embed anything that you believe will start your day in the best possible way. That can be meditation to clear your thoughts, yoga to stretch out the anxiety, writing daily goals and checklists. This habit will set you up on the right track immediately, without spending any moment on worries.
My favorite practice is 5min meditation where I close my eyes and focus on things that I feel truly grateful for. And Once I imagine all the things that make me happy, people that I had a privilege to meet, places that I’ve visited, immediately make the worries go away.
You cannot be grateful and worried at the same time. It not possible.
The more you practice that, it will become your second nature.
Why Am I So Worried About Calories?
When I started my journey with health and fitness I was worried about calories 24-hours a day. I would measure my portions, count calories, and calculate the daily limit of food necessary to lose weight. Because I didn’t know any better.
Why am I so worried about calories?
People are worried about calories because they believe that food with more calories will make them gain weight. They believe that is better to not eat and be thin rather than fat, and the only way to reduce excess weight is by eating low-calorie foods.
Plus we live in a society with a strong certainty that everyone has to be thin to be happy. Thin people get a carrot and fat people get a stick. And if you’re fat this means you’re doing something wrong.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Calories?
After years of dieting, I’ve noticed that I had this mindset where I would judge my food choices based on their calories. And the more strict I was with myself, the sooner or later I would break down and binge.
Why you shouldn’t worry about calories?
You shouldn’t worry about calories because long-term worrying and negative self-talk can influence your hunger, appetite, mood and make you gain weight. Worrying about calories can awake negative feelings and emotions that can trigger unwanted behaviors like overeating.
We make decisions based on our emotions. And when you’re worried about calories it can trigger emotional hijacking, where you react emotionally, instead of responding mindfully.
Why You Should Not Count Calories?
People don’t like dieting because they believe that counting calories is the only way to lose weight. This means you need to sacrifice all the favourite foods. And when you’re conuting calories you’re giving yourself a favour.
Here’s why should not counting calories.
Counting Calories Makes Me Eat More
I always find that counting calories makes me eat more.
Because when I’m focusing on calories, I choose my foods based on the number of calories they have, not on the fact that I actually like them or not.
This will lead to a cascade of problems because the more I deprive myself of foods that I really enjoy, sooner or later, I will eat more.
Counting Calories Makes Me Binge
Counting calories makes me binge because whenever I don’t allow myself to eat what I want, sooner or later, I will break down. And in the moment of binge is very difficult to stop.
Therefore, the best way to overcome this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Not worrying about calories allowed me to reduce stress, finally eat what I want, and focus on things that actually move the needle.
Counting Calories Makes Me Hungry
When I count calories it makes me more hungry because I only select the foods that have low-calorie density. This means I soon I will get more hungry.
But once I’ve started to eat foods that are high-calorie dense it actually improved my satiety and I feel less hungry.
When you stop worrying about counting calories and eat food that is satisfying it will pay you in spades.
Counting Calories Makes Me Miserable
When I’m worried about counting calories it always makes me miserable. Especially during the times when I’m with my friends and family, everyone is having a good time and I’m this weird guy who is always conscious of what he eats.
I felt like an idiot.
Because instead of just having fun, let loose and enjoy the moment with people that I care for, I choose to worry about my insecurities and spread the negativity around. Big mistake.
Counting Calories Makes Me Anxious
I used to spend way too much time worrying about what and what not to eat. And I realized when I count calories it makes me even more anxious about myself, not less.
Because I didn’t know any better. I thought counting calories is the only way.
But since I started to practice mindful eating, this means eating slowly, eating without distractions, and stop eating until I’m satisfied, all the anxiety went away.
Counting Calories Drives Me Crazy
I spend way too much time reading labels, measuring portions, counting points, and calculating my calorie intake. Today when I think about it, counting calories literally drives me crazy like nothing else.
Because I made my so obsessed about the food. Where instead I should focus my time and energy on things that really important.
Counting Calories Made Me Gain Weight
And here is the bottom line. In the end, counting calories made me gain weight. Because I was busy with my life, swamped with responsibilities, and rushed all day long.
And on top of that, because of my insecurity about what should or should not eat, I was eating more. Much more.
Instead of making me better version of myself, I’ve become that difficult person to live with.
Still Worried About Calories?
You shouldn’t worry about calories because long-term worrying and negative self-talk can influence your hormones and cell signaling molecules that make weight loss more difficult. Instead of worrying about calories, you should focus on self-compassion.
People who are self-compassionate:
- Perform better under stress
- Rarely choke under pressure
- Have better relationships
- Feel less depressed and more self-secure
- Can learn and develop more effectively
Worrying can actually change the plasticity of our brain. People who are constantly self-criticize themselves overstimulate the right prefrontal cortex, cortisol, and glucocorticoids that are damaging the hippocampus (learning and memory center of the brain).
This means people who are constantly worried and stressed out not only have a difficult time learning new things. They also have a hard time thinking straight, making smart decisions, and thinking proactively.
You get paralyzed. You cannot act. And the best medicine for anxiety and worry is ACTION. Action kills anxiety. The more you do stuff, instead of worrying about it, the more you’re in control. And the more you’re in control you have fewer worries because your confidence goes up.
Negative self-talk can give you more harm than good. Worrying about calories is the coping mechanism to deal with uncertainty, unclear emotions and can paralyze us from taking action. The best solution for uncertainty is to do something.
This will create momentum. And once you are doing something, focus on the task at hand, and on the things you’re in control of.
One last tip.
It’s ok to feel bad. People usually struggle with food and eating precisely because they want to avoid feeling bad. Feeling bad is as natural and feeling happy. We cannot feel happy all the time.
So embracing the fact that there are good days and bad days will not only release the stress, but it will stop you from using food to avoid those bad feelings.