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Breaking Free from Calorie Counting: A Journey to Intuitive Eating

Written by: Rylie Elder (Dietetic Intern)

In a world that’s obsessed with counting calories, it's crucial to recognize that health is more than just numbers on a plate. While tracking calories can be a useful tool for some people, it's not the only path to a balanced and fulfilling relationship with food. Let’s explore the ways to break free from calorie counting and find your path to a healthier relationship with food.

Shift Your Mindset:

Begin by shifting your mindset away from viewing food as only numbers. Recognize that

nourishing your body goes beyond counting calories and involves understanding the holistic

impact of your food choices. Consider the nutritional value of the food you eat rather than solely concentrating on the number of calories. Opt for nutrient-dense, whole foods that nourish your body and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Listen to Your Body:

Our bodies are remarkably intuitive. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you. Try pausing

in the middle of a meal and honing into how your body is feeling in the moment. Recognize the difference between physical hunger and emotional cravings. Understanding these cues can help you break free from the constraints of calorie counting.

Understand the Limitations:

Recognize the limitations of calorie counting. It may provide us a numerical value, but it doesn't

account for the nutritional value of the foods that we consume, or the emotional and psychological aspects of eating. Moreover, strictly adhering to these calorie goals can lead to stress, anxiety, and an unhealthy fixation on numbers. It’s important to consider factors other than counting calories when it comes to promoting our overall well-being.

Break Free from Guilt:

Perfection is not sustainable. Allow yourself flexibility and the occasional indulgence.

Uncontrollable cravings can arise when we don’t allow ourselves the foods that our bodies may

intermittently crave. Adopting a more flexible mindset can prevent feelings of guilt associated

with straying from strict calorie goals.

Set Non-Calorie-Related Goals:

Instead of focusing on calorie targets, set goals that promote overall well-being. These might

include incorporating more whole foods into your diet, trying new recipes, staying hydrated, or

engaging in regular physical activity. Focusing on these forms of goals can help shift the focus

from numbers to embracing a more fulfilling approach to nourishing our bodies!

Build a Supportive Environment:

Surround yourself with a supportive community. Share your journey with friends, family, or

communities that promote a healthy and balanced approach to food. Having a supportive

network can make overcoming calorie counting more manageable. If needed, speak with a

registered dietitian or nutrition expert who can provide personalized guidance related to your

individual health goals.

Remember, breaking free from calorie counting is a personal journey towards a more mindful

and fulfilling way of eating. It's not about consuming the correct number of calories but about

nourishing your body in a way that promotes overall well-being. By understanding the

limitations of calorie counting and adopting intuitive, mindful practices, you can free yourself

from its constraints and build a healthier, more sustainable relationship with food.


1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating, 4th Edition: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach.

St. Martin’s Press; 2020.

2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (Client Ed/Meal Plans, Behavioral Health, Anorexia

Nervosa Meal Planning Tips)

January 19, 2024.

3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (Client Ed/Meal Plans, Behavioral Health, Binge

Eating Disorder Meal Planning Tips)

January 19, 2024.