What’s wrong with calorie counting?

May 28, 2021

If I was to give you a cent for any time you tracked or calculated your calories, how much would that come out to be?

Last night I was sitting in the living room with my partner Dave, and we were browsing on the web to get a take-away.

I was scanning through the options of one of my favourite takeaways: Thai food.

After a few minutes of browsing, I noticed I was focusing on the calories info the restaurant provides for each dish, and I was comparing them to make my choice.

It’s good news that I noticed it.

Why? Because by catching myself checking calories I could then do something about it.

You might ask me:

What’s the hell is wrong with calorie counting?

Well, after spending two decades of my life binge-eating and demonizing the food with high calories, I can say that calorie counting never really served me, let alone helped me in taking care of my wellbeing.

Quite the opposite!

It gives you this false sense of having things under control, but that only lasts until your next binge, triggered by that same control.

The more I tracked the calories on my phone app, the more miserable I felt. Always dissatisfied with what I was eating out of the desire to look thinner. Always bingeing more out of the frustration of being dieting.

So today I can say there’s nothing good about counting calories. And that there’s a queen factor to consider when choosing my food: it’s SATISFACTION.

Hence, what I did last night was clicking the reset button from being busy checking calories.

Then asking myself:

What do I really want to eat? What will satisfy me tonight?

Do I want a curry? Or maybe a stir fry? Veggies or prawns?

And I went ahead to order without focusing on the calorie intake any longer.

Just on what I really wanted. 

I thought maybe you need to hear this today.

The next time you order a takeaway and you find yourself comparing the calories in each dish, can you try something different?

Restaurants and café in many countries are slowing re-opening for seating (so happy about it! And you?). When you’ll read the menu and you catch yourself counting calories in your head, can you allow yourself to ask this question instead?

What do I really want?

If you want to super-charge the intuitive power within you, here is another great question:

How will I feel, when the food arrives, and I’ll be eating something that’s not really what I really wanted?

Then go ahead and order after answering these questions!

Maybe, after dropping the calorie counting, and after enjoying the dish you really wanted, you can take pen and paper. In your own time, you might want to reflect on why is still so important for you to base your food choices on their calorie intake

What’s the reason behind you wanting to monitor calories?

Is it because you feel uncomfortable with the body you’re in right now? And you’d like to lose weight hoping this will resolve the problem?

Or maybe was a comment someone recently made on your weight or a friend suggesting you should watch out for the calories in your cake?

Try to go deeper and deeper to get to the real reason why the calorie counting is still a big deal for you. Ask “but why?” as many times as you need to get to the bottom of it.

Most importantly, be open and curious. Whatever comes up for you, try and not judge yourself.

It’s perfectly normal if you still want to count calories and, at the same time, you feel like there’s something wrong with it.

Especially if you’ve been on diets for many years, checking labels and menus for calories could be an acquired habit. Getting rid of it to make space for listening to your body might feel like trying to have a child stop using their pacifier.

It can feel comforting to rely on a number, on an external measure, to navigate through the trillion food options available everywhere. I get that!

However, has is truly helped you so far? Or has it only added frustration to the feeling of constant deprivation?

Is it still serving you, now that you’re moving towards trusting your body to tell you what it needs and seeking satisfaction in your eating?

I’m here to reply to any questions you might have on this. Just get in touch and I’ll be happy to connect and help.

With kindness,


onatella Porceddu Psychologist and Eating Coach based in Ireland

Written by Donatella Porceddu

I am a registered psychologist and life coach specialised in binge and emotional eating, body kindness, and mindful eating. I empower women to become the best version of themselves through my comprehensive approach, which combines personal coaching and psychology, leveraging my client’s strengths and building around their opportunities.

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If you have any questions, reach out to me today. I’ll be more than happy to connect with you and see how I can help.

Donatella Porceddu Psychologist & Eating Coach specialised in Binge Eating, Overeating, Emotional Eating, Food freedom, anti-diet approach. 1:1 support through my Make Peace with Food program.

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