“Take a diet from negative thoughts. Fill yourself with positive ones.”
Thought this post-it phrase was an especially fitting part three to my learning’s from Operation Beautiful which I more than plowed through while in Maine this past week. Why? Because this post is all about calorie counting, food diaries and the “fuzzy math” behind both.
This section of the book hit especially close to home from me – I admittedly used to be “that” girl that knew the exact calorie counts of every single food I ate, putting each item dutifully into my food diary and even went into “points” counting mode ala Weight Watchers for quite awhile. And – while I DO see value in a food diary and in the theory behind Weight Watchers (more on this in a sec), now that I’ve come out of the “fuzzy math” haze and can see the potential damage that all of this hypersensitive focus on numbers can have on our psyche.
But first – the “good” in the “fuzzy math” concept. A food diary is helpful in terms of keeping you accountable and showing you exactly what you’re eating during a given day, and in the same vein, Weight Watchers can be super helpful in helping to identify proper portion sizes. Of course, to me, both of these tools are helpful mostly for those who are truly in need of dropping a few pounds for health reasons but are not long-term healthy living tools (note I did not say for “an upcoming beach vacation” or something with a definitive beginning and an end, I said – for health reasons, because I firmly believe a loss in weight should be tied to a need for better health, not for a short-term goal, alone).
Because it forces you to constantly think of food, and mostly in a bad context, versus eating more intuitively.
“Ohhh, I’m close to my points for the day, I shouldn’t eat that banana – those 2 points could be used for a weight watcher’s ice cream sandwich after dinner.”
“I’m so hungry today but I shouldn’t eat anything else until after I workout. Then I’ve ‘earned’ the right to eat something…”
These thoughts turn food into such a numbers game, and a fuzzy numbers game at that. Food should stand for nourishment. Sustainability. And yes, it can taste good, too. These are all healthy mindsets directly related to food. Food should not equal fear. It should not equal numbers – it should definitely be about quality, above all else. This quality piece is key, to me, especially. I used to eat for quantity (as in I can eat this bowl of cool whip for zero points versus this apple and peanut butter for three points) vs. quality (this bowl of steel cut oats with almond butter is SO GOOD and filling and I have no idea how many ‘points” it is, and don’t care, it feels good to eat it!).
This is not to say that every single morsel of food I eat, I eat for quality. Because we both know that’s not the case either – exhibit A: the flourless chocolate cake!
My point is – food should be a source of enjoyment too. I may sound like I’m all over the place here, but really this all goes back to balance for me, in such a big way. Food is so much about how you feel on the inside that matters most. We need to learn to trust our bodies – if we feel hunger, feed the hunger! Don’t ignore it because you’re afraid to eat more than your “allotted” calories for the day.
Not only is life too short to focus on calories all day long, but it puts us in such a negative mindset much of the day. And this is why we need books like Operation Beautiful to snap us out of such negativity! We’ve grown so obsessed with negative thoughts tied to something that should be enjoyable (as well as nourishing) – food!
Says the blogger as she lifts her wine glass from the table and goes back to her reading…more tomorrow. 😉