Why you should delete your calorie counting app
“We trust calorie counting apps more than we trust our own bodies”
Every decision we make around food and movement can be tracked and dictated by a calorie counting app. Plug in your age, gender, height, weight, how much weight you would like to lose and time frame, and ✨ ta-da ✨ in less than a second you get a computer-generated number dictating exactly how much you ‘need’ to eat to achieve your goal.
Sounds a bit simplistic doesn’t it?
Well, it is. And we’re here to tell you that you should delete your calorie counting app.
Calorie counting apps aren’t accurate
Calorie counting apps use mathematical formulas to estimate basal metabolic rate (BMR) based on height, weight, age, gender and physical activity levels. These formulas fail to account for several factors that can influence our BMR and therefore, affects the accuracy of the numbers produced.
Unaccounted factors that influence our BMR:
- Muscle tissue: Muscle tissue is more metabolically active therefore, athletes and people with more muscle mass need more energy.
- Medical history: Certain health conditions can increase and decrease the amount of energy the body requires.
- Gut health: The gut microbiome can influence how nutrients and energy are absorbed from food.
- History of dieting: People that have a history of dieting or have lost a significant amount of weight tend to have lower metabolisms.
- Genetics and genetic predisposition
In addition, our energy needs are not static. They are always changing day-to-day based on a variety of factors including physical activity, stress, illness, hormonal changes. Calorie counting apps don’t take this into account.
So, when you consider all of the factors that can influence our BMR and therefore, affect the accuracy of the number generated by calorie counting apps, it becomes quite clear they shouldn’t be used as a strict hard-and-fast rule (which is how they are usually used).
Nutrition information labelling isn’t always accurate
Even if calorie counting apps were indeed accurate, the nutrition information printed on frozen and packaged foods and restaurant menus isn’t accurate. In some countries, a 20% margin of error is acceptable – meaning nutrition components of food can deviate up to 20% above or below the printed figure. Food preparation also changes the nutritional density of a food. For example, lightly boiled broccoli has a different nutritional value than over-boiled broccoli.
Feelings of guilt & low self-worth
Calorie counting apps force us to stop listening to our body’s inner wisdom and rely on computer-generated figures. They tell us we are good if we stay below the ridiculously low caloric targets, but we are bad for going even 1g over the protein target.
Green means good. Red means bad.
Green means I’m good. Red means I’m bad.
Think about how this makes you feel and what it conditions your brain to do overtime.
Instead of adding a little bit of sauce or gravy to your meal to make it more enjoyable, you put it down out of fear that you will be in the red zone. Eating becomes an anxiety-inducing experience and you feel guilty the more and more you choose foods that have now become ‘forbidden’ because they don’t fit into the arbitrary numbers you were assigned.
Removes the joy of food & movement
Calorie counting apps remove all the fun and joy away from eating and moving.
Enjoying a slice of cake at your best friend’s birthday or a slice of pizza on a spontaneous date night becomes nearly impossible when you’re consumed by calculating each bite, each ingredient, each slice.
Food is much more than just fuel. It provides us with culture, traditions, love, celebration and connection. You are allowed to enjoy it.
We have been conditioned to believe that a calorie counting app knows our body better than we know ourselves. This is far from true – our bodies are wiser than we realise.
On any given day, our body is sending hundreds of thousands of messages to various cells, organs and systems to keep everything functioning well within the body. We don’t stop ourselves from going to the bathroom when our body tells us it needs to go, so why do we so easily ignore our bodies when they are telling us we need fuel?
When we ignore what our body is telling us and choose to listen to external cues such as calorie counting apps about what, how much and when to eat, it can lead to many unwanted food behaviours such as restricting, binging, emotional eating and obsession.
Deleting your calorie counting app is a HUGE step towards building a more positive relationship with food and your body.
So rather than relying on the arbitrary numbers generated by an app, focus on trying to feed your body adequately throughout the day.
- Take the time to notice what hunger feels like for you. We often think of hunger as the rumbles in our stomach or feeling of emptiness, but hunger can also present itself as fatigue, weakness, headaches, shakiness, irritability, difficulty paying attention, thinking about food, an upset stomach and more.
- Acknowledge when you are hungry and eat.
- Eat foods that sound good to you.
- Take the time to enjoy eating. Slow down and notice the taste, smell and texture of food as you are eating.
- Notice how you feel after eating. Are you more energetic? Content? Satisfied? Sluggish?
Tuning in to these signals and how your body is feeling can help us to better understand when, what and how much to eat.
It’s important to acknowledge that even after deleting your calorie counting app, escaping the system is difficult. Un-training your brain to think of food as more than just numbers takes time. But, it is absolutely worth it. You will learn to reclaim your mind and body, and truly enjoy eating again ❤️
If you’re wanting to explore intuitive eating further, we have compiled some great resources to get you started here