Harvard Says Good-Bye to Calorie Counting

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As a registered dietitian and nutrition therapist who treats eating disorders in Cambridge, I was intrigued by a recent article appearing on the CNN website. Harvard University Dining Services has decided to remove detailed nutrition information cards from their dining halls after parents and students raised concerns about their triggering effect for students susceptible to or struggling with an eating disorder. While the nutrition information can still be found online and at dining hall kiosks, a new emphasis will focus on the benefits of certain foods, rather than their caloric breakdown.

My response? Go Harvard! From my professional experience calorie counting and dieting lead to disordered eating patterns, an unhealthy pre-occupation with food, lowered levels of self-esteem, and a frustrated relationship with food. Rarely does it lead to lasting weight loss. While calorie counting may give you a reality check (particularly with restaurant foods), learning to follow intuitive eating signals is far more effective in the long run. So the next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself “am I actually hungry?”