I’m a mother, nutritional therapist and author who has been sharing recipes to help you get the glow back for the last 8 years...
It’s truth time. I’ll go first: I used to count calories obsessively. Obsessively! I knew the calorie count of pretty much everything that passed my lips, and those numbers ruled my life. Now, I never count calories.
Measuring food in numbers was my way of trying to get control over my body. I was permanently on a diet. I’d search for low-fat foods because they generally had fewer calories, but actually that meant I was eating a lot of junk food like Diet Coke and sugary processed yogurts. Result: I had no energy, I was constantly hungry and always thinking about what I could eat next.
Counting calories got me into an unhealthy relationship with food. I was constantly judging myself for being ‘bad’ or ‘good’. I missed out on so many good times because I was mentally beating myself up. Such a waste of my life.
Exhausted, I stopped counting calories about five years ago. It felt weird at first, because I’d had it drummed into me that monitoring my calorie intake was what you should do. But gradually I realised that I should be thinking about how much nutrition is in my food rather than how few calories I could eat in a day. That seismic mental shift transformed my body and – more importantly – transformed my relationship with food.
When I stopped counting calories, I got my glow. Here’s what I learned along the way:
So many nutrient-rich foods naturally come with calories, but those calories affect your body differently. For example, a bag of Haribo has a similar calorie count to an avocado, but the sweets will make you crave more sugar and won’t keep you full. Avocado comes with healthy fats, key vitamins and fibre that nourish every cell in your body.
I used to be scared of eating fat because it was so calorific. But the truth is that fats are really good for your body. Why? They help you to absorb nutrients. Since I embraced healthy fats, the difference shows in my skin – it’s glowing, not dull. And did you know that your brain is made up of about 60% fat? So when you eat nourishing fatty foods like salmon, almonds or coconut oil, you’re actually feeding your brain.
Have you ever eaten so much that your belly aches, but you still feel the urge to eat more, more, more? I know I have. Until I stopped counting calories and started embracing fat, I’d regularly get myself into a state. Then I realised that it’s the fat in our food that makes us feel satiated – that content feeling when you’ve had enough to eat and you can relax. What’s more, dressing your salad with healthy fats like olive oil makes your veggies more delicious!
I never count calories any more, but I don’t eat with total abandon either. It’s fair to say that having a spoonful of peanut butter is a healthy habit, but a whole jar of peanut butter is not so healthy! So I look at my portion size. I aim for a palm-sized portion of protein and try to fill half of my plate with veggies or fruit. I do my best to eat slowly and mindfully, chewing my food so that I realise when I’m full before my belly gets stretched to the point of pain. My major thing is that I load up on nutrient packed foods that fill me up, not sugary foods that don’t come with any nutritional value.
Do you count calories? Are you scared of fat, or do you embrace it? I’d love to know, because I think the more open we are about our relationship with food, the healthier and happier we can be. So please do hop on over to my Instagram and let’s chat.
Love, Madeleine xx