Ain't no shame in the calorie counting game: How to erase guilty feelings about eating at parties!

July 20 2016 | Guest post by Kim Angell

Hey, we know that calorie counting isn't for everyone. If you'd rather not focus on them at all, click here for a similar post without all the calories.

I never met a calorie I didn't like print from Etsy seller eRoseImagery
I never met a calorie I didn't like print from Etsy seller eRoseImagery

It's the start of the summer party season for the US. Which means tons of BBQ meat, beers, margaritas and CAKE! You can't have a party without cake! The perfect time for all that anxiety in your gut to start rising up about your food choices, and just how "good" you've been the last weeks. (I'll talk in a minute about how "being good" actually means nothing, by the way.)

But if you're like me, and have made the choice to start logging your food intake…

Whatever you do don't stop because of one day of indulgence

For example, my Total Daily Energy Expenditure (the amount of calories that my body will burn in a 24-hour period) is 2300 calories a day. That means in order to maintain my weight, I need to eat 2300. If I go to a party, and end up consuming 3000 calories in that evening, and had 600 calories earlier in the day, for a total of 3600 calories that day, I'm 1300 over my maintenance budget.

I have two choices…

Stop using the tools and be frustrated that "nothing works"

"I'm fucked," I can decide. I went over my calorie limit for this one day and might as well throw in the towel. There is no point in logging food, because it doesn't stop me from over-eating like it obviously should. I can blame myself not having self control, or will power, at this event that is meant to be enjoyed with my family and friends. Or…

Continue to log my food and drink

I could log my day of awesome indulgence, understanding that, in order to gain even one extra pound, I would have to consume 2300 (my maintenance) + 3500 (the amount of extra calories you would have to consume to gain one pound) for a total of 5800 in a day, and move on.

That math was big for me. Really fucking big. This was realizing that, for the first time in my adult life, I was slowly developing a healthy relationship with food.

When I started realizing that being kind to myself was a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable, I stopped having so much anxiety towards social situations, and the delicious food that is generally a big part of them.

Whatever you drink, whatever you eat, YOU ARE STILL GOOD

In fact you are fucking fantastic. You know why?… Because food does not dictate who you are as a human being.

The only place "good" needs to be used in respect to food is a descriptive word about how it tastes, not as a reflection on you as a person.

  1. This is timely, since I too started recently tracking my calorie intake. I'm not actively "dieting" but just trying to keep the calories-per-day around a certain amount. I recently went on a weekend retreat with family, and didn't track at all during that time. But once I got back, I started tracking again. Just from tracking alone, I realized I had been consuming WAY too many calories from soda/ice cream/candy. I'd guess I was probably consuming 3x more calories before I started tracking than now, and the only difference is that I don't want to have to write down how much I'm eating/drinking.

  2. I have often equated calorie counting with budgeting my finances. I can certainly get by without knowing the exact dollar amount in my bank account on any given day, but if I do that long enough, eventually I will run into some serious problems down the line. It's better to keep an eye on spending/eating, and make adjustments accordingly as you go. A snicker's bar isn't going to break the bank or calorie budget, but 50 snickers bars might. As long as you don't continuously overspend/overeat, you'll be just fine.

  3. I so agree with the good versus bad when it comes to food. I used to work for Weight Watchers, and whenever my members would talk about how "bad" they were for eating a cookie or whatever, I'd tell them that eating the cookie was only bad if they stole it from a child. I don't think any of us need more reasons to feel bad about ourselves.

  4. I am so glad to read this. I maintain a very low sugar diet and have been for about three years. The only problem is that when my friends want to have a party or go out I am constantly asked why I didn't get a drink, why I don't want dessert, or a slice or pizza. I have explained that I am on a low sugar diet, but it is like it goes in one ear and out the other. At every party I have to plan out my strategy. It's anxiety inducing and sometimes I just want an excuse to not go out at all.

    I've have slowly been getting more confident in just saying, "No thanks!" and "Actually I can't eat that due to a dietary restriction." Nobody can argue with that. Other people might look at me funny of feel like I am a stick in the mud, but that is not my problem.

    The overall lesson: YOU DO YOU!! It's your body and that is the most important thing. Feeling bad about not eating the 800 calorie meal someone brought to the party is not helping anyone. Instead, think about how you are taking the right steps to be a role model to your friends. They should be congratulating you and supporting you in your effort!

  5. I agree with the idea of not giving up on your food goals because you had one day where you splurged a bit. Calorie counting has never worked for me personally, but I'm glad it works for you.

  6. This is so true. Sometimes when I'm logging my food I'll think "Oh no! This will be awful" …and it turns out to be not that bad. The number for any particular day doesn't matter. It's the trend that counts.
    Also, I don't know about you, but I'm not swimming in party invites. I once tallied up all the party invites and holidays during the year and I think I came out to about 1 day per month. Why did I bother doing that? Well I'll tell you. At the time I was attending Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers has a lot of good things going for it but there's one practice that does not agree with me: every month that contained a major holiday turned in a concerted group effort to chisel away at the joy of that holiday. We spent a lot of time scheming on how to replace chips with celery, how to turn down our relatives who made something special for us, how to eat vegetable soup the days ahead of time, etc. I understand Weight Watcher's rationale: they were trying to give us tools to "stay in control". They weren't trying to make us obsess about food — they were challenging us to re-define our family gatherings! They weren't trying to send us on a guilt-eat-guilt cycle — they were keeping us focused!
    But for me those approaches backfired and after I tallied up all the "challenge" days Weight Watchers was trying to get me to rise above, I concluded that I don't want to live in a world where I can't splurge 1 day per month.
    Whatever my issues are with food, this is not the problem.

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