Everyday, I talk to clients who think counting calories, avoiding foods that taste good and making particular foods “bad” or the enemy is actually a good idea. I’ve got news for you, its not. Although you may have picked up on these messed up thinking styles or have disordered relationships with food and their bodies. This behavior isn’t healthy: it’s eating disordered behavior. Men and women, young adults, teens and even parents suffer from the urge to control their feelings through food. Whether its counting calories obsessively, working out to extremes or binging, none of these behaviors help your body or mind.
Food is fuel; you need it to survive. Food is your friend, even those tasty holiday treats aren’t there to sabotage nutrition goals. They only do that if you let them. You are supposed to enjoy food (duh, that’s why it tastes so good!).
What many people get wrong about diets and nutrition is everything. They buy into articles written by people who are likely suffering from their own eating disorders or who don’t have a background in nutrition. They pick up on “celebrity diet fads” or bullsh*t in a magazine that shows what they allegedly eat in a given day. They may eat it once but I also see pictures of them gorging at In and Out Burgers sooooo I doubt they are real diet plans. I have a background in neurochemistry and nutrition and I’m a trained psychotherapist who works with eating disorders. If you don’t believe the information I’m sharing, google it. Look for the science, not the hype about counting calories and other food myths.
Stop Counting Calories & Avoid These Destructive Behaviors:
- Counting calories when you exercise. It’s not accurate and not why you need to exercise. Exercise is for mental and physical health. Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to your brain and increases the amount of endorphins, (feel-good chemicals) in the brain.
- Avoiding foods that you crave. See that yummy cupcake, dream about the brownies at the office. Okay, don’t deprive yourself. Add some milk or a latte to your snack and recognize that it’s damn good. The milk will help your body absorb the sugar and provide protein so you don’t crash. Avoiding the foods you crave creates obsessive thoughts and neglects what your body really wants.
- Don’t compare yourself. Stop looking at those VS Models who workout for a living, they make their money on their bodies so working out for them is part of work. Avoid following accounts on social media that make you feel insecure. It isn’t motivation it’s abuse.
- Stop believing everything you read. The magazines, blogs or articles that “claim” you should eat a certain way are not accurate because they don’t know YOU. They don’t know your metabolism, your body type or activity level. They are generic and often inaccurate. Just stop the madness okay?
Instead of letting these diet myths and “rules” take over your mind, get the facts on why food is fuel for your mind, body and spirit. A dysfunctional diet, obsessive habit or unrealistic goal will only get you closer to developing a life-threatening eating disorder.
Counting Calories is Useless, Counting Servings isn’t
I LOVE Carbs
Carbs are your friend. Diets and dumb advice claim that carbs are the devil. Um, sorry they are necessary for living.
- The role of Carbohydrates in the body includes providing energy for muscles and fuel for your body to metabolism fat. GET IT, carbs help your metabolism work to the best of it’s ability.
- Carbs fuel the central nervous system so that you can have energy. Without it you’re going to be hungry and tired.
- It helps protein be used to build muscle. Without it, protein is used to as energy which isn’t it’s role.
- Carbs provide your body with sugar (glucose) that feeds your cells energy. Without them, your cells and brain chemistry are tired. Tired doesn’t mean energetic does it? It means your metabolism is slowing down.
Don’t eat a whole bag of chips, binge on a bunch of bread, but adding a carbohydrate your snack and meal is vital for your food to work for you. Veggies and fruit are great but don’t provide you with the long-lasting benefits of a complex carb. Crackers and cheese, the BUN on your burger (I know I said eat the BUN) because you will be fuller and less likely to be hungry later on. Feeling satisfied with your meal is actually healthy. Starving or stuffed isn’t.
The Power of Protein
You know that chicken or Greek yogurt is good for you but eating it alone without a carb or a fat makes it less effective. “I don’t want to bulk up” some say. Don’t worry, your body is likely starving for some amino acids, which are found in proteins.
- Protein is a component of every cell in your body. It builds healthy muscles, cartridge, helps your skin and your metabolism. Without sufficient protein, your metabolism suffers.
- Protein isn’t stored in the body so if your running low, you start craving carbs and sugar.
- These foods are good sources. Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources. For kids, a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults, a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.
- Your hair, skin and nails all look healthy with sufficient protein.
- Your metabolism works more effectively with protein.
- Even if you don’t workout, your body needs protein to survive and for cells to communicate; without it, you STORE fat.
- You cannot build muscle without protein.
I eat it with every meal, and snack. I put collagen powder in my coffee to make sure that my mornings start with fuel (and caffeine), add nuts to a snack in the afternoon as well as get lean protein at every meal.
Don’t Fear the Fat
Fat is phenomenal, especially Omega-3’s; they are the superheroes. You will not “get fat” when you eat good, happy fats. That is bullsh*t. Egg white omelettes, unless your doctor says you have high cholesterol, are a terrible options. You don’t get the essential fatty acids that make your metabolism work optimally. Your skin, hair and nails also suffer. So eat the damn egg.
- Fat helps your metabolism. If you don’t get enough fat, your body will start to eat up your muscle. That means that you will damage your metabolism and break down the muscles that are needed to keep your body healthy.
- Plus, your brain NEEDS fat to help the cells and neurotransmitters communicate. Without it, you’ll feel unfocused. They taste great and fight disease while keeping your brain running smoothly. They fight inflammation, help control blood clotting, and lower blood pressure and triglycerides.
- Fat makes you pretty. They also make outer appearance, such as skin and hair, glow. Even more, they have been shown to aid in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, and balance the brain.
Fatty fish like albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are good sources. Vegetable sources include soy, walnuts, and some vegetable oils, such as olive and peanut (prior to heat: heating these oils creates a trans-fat like reaction).
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health. Try some of these in your diet:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
- Lean poultry
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Nut Butter
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
Why I Don’t Count Calories
I’m in a seriously satisfying relationship with avocados. We spend time together every day. They give me essential fatty acids to make my skin radiate and my brain love the healthy fats. Instead of fearing fat, start looking at how important it is to your mind and your appearance.
Look, I know counting calories, fear of particular foods and unhealthy behaviors are hard to break. But try to add in a bit of science FACTS instead of eating disorder-laden hype so that you can be treating your body right. I did. When I realized all the benefits of what foods do for me rather than counting calories or obsessing about weight gain I became empowered and confident. When you don’t fuel your body you don’t serve yourself, the world and your friends. So try this: next time you feel the urge to avoid a fear food, remind yourself of how that food really serves you. You may start to let food be your friend instead of your enemy.
Take Good Care,
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.