Is calorie counting really worth it?

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It’s Monday Morning – Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself for the past few weeks that this is the day. No more digestives at 11pm. No more takeaways. No more food that you love; from now on it’s just porridge, greens, and smoothies.

It probably goes well for the first day; you’re feeling refreshed and energized, just like a healthy girl on a smoothie poster. You haven’t even thought about that Mars Bar in the cupboard. Your walk home from your long day of lectures feels great- maybe you even go to the gym- and you get home feeling pretty proud.

But once you are home, you grab a cup of tea, sit down and track everything you’ve eaten in an app or notebook. You spend at least 20 minutes a day like this, counting up the tiny bits of energy your body has received, and congratulating yourself for staying within the calorie limit.

Healthiness is great, and eating more fruit and vegetable based meals is so important, especially when studying hard for an exam. Exercise is also important, whether you do it at the gym, by swimming or just by walking lots each day.

But I personally disagree with the concept of counting calories. All it ever caused me was obsession and a desperate hunger- not for food- but for beating my targets every week. These food targets were too low, and didn’t give my body enough fuel to function properly, and lead to many mental health issues.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not against calorie counting if you get expert advice on how to calorie count: it can be an effective way to lose weight if you medically need to. It just worries me when young adults and even children are exposed to weight-loss techniques that can easily be abused or incorrectly applied to their own diet.

Unfortunately we are surrounded by images and adverts telling us to lose weight, and calorie counting is becoming a sort of trend; focusing on what you eat and less upon what daily exercise you do.

I fear that this is an unhealthy view of your health, and encourages the myth that food cravings are ‘sinful’ and ‘bad’ (as many clean-eating bloggers discuss). There is nothing wrong with drinking a kale smoothie for breakfast, but there is also nothing wrong with eating a bacon sandwich: it is all about the balance.

Going through life forever sticking to your allocated numbers and allotted meals is, in reality, fairly unrealistic. You can work on your fitness or mental wellbeing whilst still joining your friends for a pub meal or having a lazy stay-inside-all-day Sunday.

Life and happiness should always come before your
food and exercise plan. At the end of the day, desperately refraining from eating a piece of cake may help you to lose a dress size, but will it make you any happier?

Charlie Collett

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