Elizabeth over at The Nourished Life wrote a wonderful and very insightful post the other day about why one should not count calories. Here's the thing: I totally agree with everything she says. I know, I know. I count calories. Right Now. It is not something I intend to do forever, though. She's right. There is no way to predict how many calories your body will need in any given day in any given circumstance. Each body is different and metabolizes our fuel in its own unique way. If you only eat when you are hungry and you eat real, whole foods you should never have to worry about calories ~ or your weight. That's not me.
Another argument against counting calories (which Elizabeth notes in the comments) is that when counting calories, peole have a tendancy to gravitate towards lower calorie foods ~ regardless of the nutrients in that food (if any). In the past when I've been on diets I've always gone for the skim milk, low fat cheese, baked potato chips, 100 calorie packs, low fat, "light" yogurt, etc, etc, etc... I was always hungry. It's no wonder. It wasn't that I wasn't eating enough calories, I wasn't getting enough nutrients. When our bodies lack certain nutrients that they need to function properly we interpret that as hunger or insatiable cravings.
Whole (raw) milk has more calories than Skim Milk, Quality artisan cheese has more calories than Low Fat (funky, fake) cheese "product", real yogurt made from quality whole raw milk has a lot more calories (and a lot less chemicals) than the sugar free, lowfat flavored yogurt ~ but you know what? I eat the more calorie dense foods and I feel good. I'm not hungry. I'm satisfied with less.
I'm not dieting. I'm redefining my relationship with food. I'm changing my habits. I'm creating a new life.
So why do I count calories? Because even though I'm committed to eating whole foods I still don't always know when to stop. Once my brain and my body can trust each other again I'll stop counting calories. When I eat soley for nourishment and I break the cycle of emotional eating, I'll stop.
For now, counting calories keeps me accountable.