Beyond Calorie Counting

Yesterday I gave a nutrition seminar for a group of women at Get in Shape for Women at Central Square in Cambridge. One of the themes that developed during my seminar is that many women simply don’t trust themselves with food! They want to be told exactly what and how much to eat, since they obviously “aren’t don’t it right.”

My goal in the work I do with my clients is to teach them they don’t have to spend their days counting calories or following rigid rules (we have better things to do!). More important than following some strict plan is beginning to tune in to what your body is telling you. Your body has the wisdom, you just need to listen.

One of the tools I encourage my clients to utilize in on our work is a food journal. And when used properly, it can foster awareness and help you listen to your body in a way you might never have before.

I ask my clients to keep a food journal that is a bit of a pain in the rear end because it’s somewhat involved. It includes a place to record time of day, hunger/fullness ratings, what and how much they are eating, feelings/ emotions they are experiencing, what triggered or caused them to eat, where they are eating, and who they are eating with. Phew! That’s a lot of information.

While that might seem a little over the top, I find that gathering this sort of data points us in a very useful direction. We start to observe patterns and discover together what specific things trip them up and prevent them from feeding their bodies well. Instead of focusing too narrowly on the “what and how much” category (which is often the case when people are trying to eat healthier), my clients become tuned into the many components which affect food choice. Instead of only working superficially with eating, we begin getting down to the root of the problem.

My hope is that through this food journaling, my clients begin to listen to and trust themselves around food, rather than looking for validation outside of themselves (ie a calorie count, point plan, number on the scale). Is it important to consider food and it’s nutritional value? Of course! But it’s simply one piece of the puzzle.

I recently received this article from a client and think you may enjoy reading it. Many of the author’s points reflect the importance of paying attention to the many factors which affect food choice, not just the calorie count on the back of the nutrition label.