Counting calories is a great tool for managing your weight and has a proven track record for many reasons, these being:
- the numbers don’t lie
- we often have a distorted perception of what we’re eating, kcals and portion sizes (research has proven this)
- we have bias beliefs on what is healthy & unhealthy
- it’s almost impossible to accurately recall from memory all that we eat & drink and then estimate the calories
- calorie counting makes you accountable
- calorie counting gives you an honest understanding of what you’re eating and your relationships with food & drink
However, whilst an excellent tool tracking doesn’t fit with everybody. It can be time consuming at first and is not a sustainable long term approach. It can also encourage unhealthy mindsets around food. We’ve also found that people fear counting calories. In this article we’ve got some top tips to help you manage your calories without counting them.
>>>You can lose weight without counting calories and still enjoy your favourite foods<<<
This means eating without emotional attachment to food whether positive or negative (guilt). Understanding when to eat and choosing foods that will nurture your body. Eating high fibre and protein rich foods at regular intervals will help you to manage hunger drastically reducing the chances of binging on high energy foods when you’re hungry. A good rule of thumb is to rate hunger from 1-10, 1 being extremely hungry and 10 being full..Ideally we should eat when we’re at 4/10..any lower and you’ve left it too long, any higher, ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’
Cravings vs Hunger
Often we overlook the reasons why we eat when we do. Unknowingly we all develop relationships between certain environments & feelings and foods, for example ice cream sales are much higher in the summer than winter. The more that we respond to these triggers the more ingrained and automatic our responses become, this is the formation of habits whether healthy or unhealthy.
A helpful exercise is to write a list of triggers that could cause you to make unhealthy choices eg. stressed = binge on sugar, in a parallel column make a list of positive responses eg. take 20 mins to relax/exercise etc.
Cravings = Specific foods, situational, pass within a short time – distract your mind!
Hunger = non specific, will eat anything, gets worse if ignored
By far the most effective way to drop fat. Smaller portions = less calories! (the basis of every diet & fad)
– use a smaller plate or bowl
– take longer to eat, enjoy every mouthful and savour the flavours
– pack out your meals with vegetables
– balance your macros
– Focus on how much & how often you eat
– consume smaller meals at regular intervals
– prioritise vegetables and proteins over carbs and fats
– it’s ok to enjoy snacks – low kcal snacks are great for keeping hunger at bay
– there is room for sweets etc in your diet, in moderation and for the right reasons
– identify your negative triggers and create a positive responses
– set yourself short term goals that lead to your ultimate target
– monitor the outcomes – if you’re still not losing weight you’re not quite in a calorie deficit yet
– review and adjust the process when needed
– don’t stress, this is a long term lifestyle not a short term ‘diet’