One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

Do You Count Calories, Fat or Weigh Your Food?

102 Comments 4677 views

Question of the weekHey.. look.. It’s a Question of the Week! I miss these. There will be more now.. I promise. :)

Anyway I had quick conversation with Dinneen aka eatwithoutguilt tonight on twitter that got me thinking.

She tweeted…

If you count calories, fat grams, or weight your food — you do NOT have a healthy relationship w/food. Sorry to tell you that..

my response…

Not sure I agree.. RT @EatWithoutGuilt: If u count calories, fat or weight your food — u do NOT have a healthy relationship w/food

@EatWithoutGuilt If u overeat & binge u don’t have a hlthy relationship either. There is a middle ground, being aware is a huge part of that

Her Response…

@RoniNoone Counting calories can help in beginning…but not sustainable. No way. Not over long run. And who wants to?

@RoniNoone And overeating & bingeing are def not healthy relationship w/food. I totally get that. It’s about balance :)

Mine…

@EatWithoutGuilt Agree.. but there has to be a balance. Everyone is in a different place. We need 2 educate not make people feel ashamed

Please excuse the "twitter talk" we do only have a 140 characters to get our points across but I think you get the gist.

As someone who’s been on both sides of the fence with food her tweet struck a cord with me. Probably because I am a food weigher and I feel I have a very healthy relationship with food. A much healthier one then when I was bingeing on entire stuffed crust pizzas and sneaking little Debbie snack cakes.

I don’t obsessively weigh. I don’t bring my scale to restaurants. I don’t even weight for every meal. But I use my kitchen scale as a tool to educate me on portion sizes. When I try a new cereal, I like to see what a serving looks like. When I want cheese (a trigger food for me) I weight out a serving as to not go overboard. I also use the scale a lot when measuring ingredients for GreenLiteBites.

Again, maybe I’m biased but I think you can have a healthy relationship with food if you count calories or use a food scale. I agree with Dinneen that you aren’t going to want to do it forever but you may very well be at a point in your journey where you are learning or even gathering information on you eating habits. And I think using a scale for measuring or counting points/calories/fat/etc for accountability is very helpful.

I’m sure others disagree.

So….

Do You Count Calories, Fat or Weigh Your Food?

How do you "weigh in" on this issue?



Leave a comment

I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.

Discussion

There are 102 comments so far.

    EmilyRose

    August 24, 2010

    I definitely think there’s a balance. I count calories and I definitely don’t think it’s obsessive or “wrong.” It really helps me to see what I’m REALLY putting in my body; no more mindless eating.

    It’s also helping me to realize that food is a fuel. That’s the ultimate healthiest relationship in my opinion!

    Kendra

    August 24, 2010

    I think that it can be healthy. I have a general idea of how many calories are in everything I eat and I tally it throughout the day. I do this because I have a tendency to both not eat enough and overeat depending on the day. Counting calories is an important tool for me in being healthy, not just losing weight.

    maria @ Chasing the Now

    August 24, 2010

    I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with the original comment. There’s a balance between being able to eat anything you want and crave (intuitive eating) and being obsessed with calorie counting. And if you ask me, finding the balance that works for you (weighing foods you know you go overboard on, counting calories or points, etc.) and doesn’t interrupt real life, then why does that make your relationship with food bad?

    Sandra

    August 24, 2010

    I do all three. As I am losing weight I need to count calories, fat and to weigh my food otherwise I would go over on everything!

    rollercoaster

    August 24, 2010

    I think that counting anything can lead to obsessive behavior, something to distract us from our lives. I don’t think people should feel ashamed about doing it, but I do think it perpetuates this idea that you can’t trust your body, that a diet is necessary. Ultimately if you learn to really listen to your body and your emotions, the food regulation will follow.

    That being said, if it’s used as an educational tool (like figuring out what a serving size is) then it can be valuable, it’s when we hyper-focus on it as a way to avoid emotions that it becomes detrimental to our mental health.

    What that looks like is, something happens in our lives that makes us feel uncomfortable and we immediately start going over our food intake for the day and determining exactly how many calories we consumed or planning our strict food intake for tomorrow.

    Definitely a very fine line to walk.

    rollercoaster

    August 24, 2010

    And, as always, great topic! It really made me think :)

    Charity Froggenhall

    August 24, 2010

    I weigh things that are easy to let the portion sizes get away from you, like cereal or my favorite toasted dry pecans. But only at home, it’s not like I bring a scale with me!

    Julie - Big Girl Bombshell

    August 24, 2010

    I don’t weigh my food but I pay attention to portion sizes. There are a lot of tricks to “measure” by site. Like a deck of cards for protein portions.
    My question to you would be you still use the word Trigger with cheese…and you weigh out a portion so you don’t go overboard. Is that a healthy relationship or control? That is where my issues of my unhealthy becoming healthier issues come from for ME.. Healthy, for me, is NOT trying to control but to learn to trust myself to make healthier choices… Yes, in the beginning weighing or measuring to “see” what the correct portions look like but later down the road….I hope to be able to recognize the “right” amount. ANYWAY, just my opinion for ME.

    Amanda

    August 24, 2010

    I’m a combination of counting calories and weighing out portion sizes so give me an accurate picture of what I’m eating. Weighing gives me an idea of what’s normal, and let’s face it, if we’re overweight, it’s because at some point our version of normal became exaggerated. Counting calories gives me a way to structure what I’m eating…that candy bar isn’t very appealing when I realize I could eat X amount of carrots, strawberries, etc.

    I did notice there was a comment on Dinneen’s twitter feed about not counting calories, but just going by how you feel. Just to expand the conversation…I’d say that’s good advice, but calorie counting and weighing of food is so necessary for so many people to essentially reteach ourselves normal food portions. Society has let us believe a Big Mac is a normal meal, so undoubtedly we’re inclined to develop these skewed ideas of portion size. Having a numerical or physical reference point can be so helpful in learning what’s closer to “normal,” especially when folks are just trying to lose weight and struggling with the emotional reasons behind overeating. Just my two cents! :)

    Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

    August 24, 2010

    I agree that it shouldn’t be obsessive but there certainly isn’t anything wrong with being AWARE of what you are eating. A simple chicken breast can look deceivingly small. I weigh my meat before cooking usually. I weigh cheese. I can get a LOT of cheese in a CUP but if I weigh it, I know what my 4 oz. cup should be.

    After you get used to what a portion looks like you might not have to weigh as much or as often.

    I count calories not fat, I just try to avoid fatty foods!!

    Liz

    August 24, 2010

    I think it is important to know what we are eating. Counting calories, fat grams and/or weighing something will give us part of that picture. I also check out the amount of sugar and sodium in food and carefully read the ingredient list to determine if something is real or filled with chemicals. I like to think that the more information I have, the better choices I can make and have a healthy relationship with food fully conscious of what I am consuming and how it will affect my body.

    Melissa (@MelGetsFit)

    August 24, 2010

    I’m definitely still in the counting/weighing mode, but it’s Points® for me since I’m following Weight Watchers. For me, it’s what works for now while I’m in losing mode with still so much more to lose. When I get closer to my goal weight, I plan to switch to the Filling Foods method (Core) and focus on just eating reasonable portions of healthy foods. I think that’s a more sustainable plan over the long-haul. Counting helps me keep things in check for now until I fully retrain myself as to what “normal” portions are when it comes to food.

    suzanne

    August 24, 2010

    I admit i count points which is the same as counting calories, fat and fibre. The reason i weigh foods is because i’ve found quite often i underestimate the weight of foods so i’m not eating enough. The scale is handy and only takes me a minute.
    I find counting and weighing definitely helps me to stay focused.

    Lydia

    August 24, 2010

    I disagree with the original comment. Counting points has led to my cooking and eating higher-quality food in proper portions, enjoying my food more, preparing more diverse dishes, and feeling better about myself in a variety of ways.

    Jane

    August 24, 2010

    I primarily weigh only cereal and protein servings (only at home). An easier way for me to track my food is to count the number of starches, fruits, dairy, etc. that I have in a day. (That’s the old WW program.)

    I once belonged to a 12-step program, which required weighing and measuring everything, even in restaurants. I couldn’t do that. It felt like a penance for being overweight–that I had to do something so unusual. Instead of wearing a scarlet letter, I was pulling out a scale and measuring cups. I don’t think that is in my best interest when working to develop good self-directed eating habits down the road, or good self esteem. I try to be reasonable and as “normal” as I can be about the portions of my food. I agree that in the beginning, however, weighing and measuring is helpful and probably necessary to provide a frame of reference for portion sizes. That can be done at home.

    Sana

    August 24, 2010

    I do look at the amount of calories for certain food items and it is a good idea when you are eating out. That way you are not blindsided. But for the most part I focus on what I am eating and how much :)!

    Thea @ I'm a Drama Mama

    August 24, 2010

    I am trying to get to the point where I make the right food choices so that I don’t have to do any of those things.

    When I did count points on WW, I was never good at tracking or weighing. I did it because I felt that I had to, not because I wanted to.

    Now, I just try to be conscious of making my daily intake balanced.

    I quit counting calories two weeks ago. I’ve finally met a point in my weight loss/health journey that it is not healthier FOR ME to stop counting calories and focus more on eating intuitively and working on my behaviors. But I would have never been able to get to this point and be successful if it wasn’t for counting calories for 10 months. I wouldn’t trade that experience.

    oops, it IS healthier FOR ME to stop counting*

    ;)

    Krista S.

    August 24, 2010

    For me, balance is key. I go through phases of weighing & counting calories and then I stop for awhile. It’s sort of like my love-hate relationship with the bathroom scale. I do absolutely believe that weighing and measuring and counting calories has helped me to understand and visualize what healthy portion sizes are, but honestly, I get a bit neurotic when I do it full time. Still, it’s a personal choice and I think that it is a very helpful tool. I really love baking with my kitchen scale because it eliminates measuring cups/spoons for washing!

    Reinaldo

    August 24, 2010

    I have to agree with both of you. Yes, weighting food at the beginning is a must. Just to get the grip on portion sizes. You just can’t trust a beginner to “eyeball” a portion size, probably because his/her portion is like 2 and a half portions to begin with.
    That being said, after you actually learned what a portion looks like, had been eating less and you stomach has shrinked to some degree (where you are satisfied with regular portions) you can let the leash loose.
    But, when being introduced to new foods, the process starts all over again. And you should weight for meals every now and then, just to keep in check than your portions sized hasn’t been growing larger and larger without even noticing it. The fat kid inside us is tricky!

    chris_in_cal

    August 24, 2010

    I’m obese with a 32.5 BMI, I’ve been on a new kick for about two months and have made good progress. I’m male, and never counted or thought about a calorie before, for me it was “I need to work out more”. I’m now obese, busy, and middle-aged. After reading some blogs, and the National Weight Control Registry I thought I’d try some of the basics for the first time, earlier this summer. Counting calories for instance. I didn’t have a measuring spoon or cups, so I got some. I didn’t have a food scale, so I bought one about two weeks ago. I didn’t have a good tool for getting calorie and nutrition info, so I tried a few and found one. Now I’m locked in. After never thinking about it my whole life, within the last two weeks I have every thing in place. I make and measure portions and track them on my Calorie Counting tool. The last two weeks have been very very interesting. I’ve had a transformation in my uinderstanding of portion, and serving size, and calorie count.
    I can understand her point about maybe making it a life long obsession, I’m a little obsessed right now (in a good way) but to dismiss it isn’t fair. It really has raised my awareness of what I am eating in a way which just has not, and I think could not happen without the information I get noting serving size and calorie content of the foods I’ve been eating.
    I could stop right now, and do in intuitively for a couple of week or months. I imagine some tune-ups of counting calories are going to be necessary to raise my awareness back up.

    Lindsey Ferguson

    August 24, 2010

    I think I have a very healthy relationship with food, and I always check out calories and fat content! If I am trying a new food that I think is healthy, I see how many fat and calories are in a serving. Maybe it’s not as healthy as I thought. Also, I always I want to be aware of how much I am eating. Sometimes, I realize that I haven’t eaten enough! Every body needs a different amount of calories and fat. All bodies need fat to function healthily, and some bodies function better with more fat than others. The key is to listen to your body and be aware of what it is asking for. I do this by glancing at the calories and fat of what I am eating. I probably need about 1700 calories a day, but some days I am still hungry, so I give my body what it’s asking for and may eat over 2000. The key with counting is awareness and meeting your body’s needs, not deprivation.

    Arlene

    August 25, 2010

    What a great question.

    When I’m making the choices I’m supposed to be making, I count WW Points. But when I go “off the rails,” I forget all about counting and eat everything in sight.

    It would be nice if, someday, I could stop counting … but I know from past experience that when I stop, it feels like a free pass to each whatever I want.

    So, at least for now, I’ll keep counting. Unhealthy? Perhaps … but better to measure and weigh food than end up back at 300 pounds.

    Mehgann

    August 25, 2010

    I firmly believe that moderation is key in having a healthy relationship with food. Just like with pizza, brownies, cookies, ice cream, etc. (you get the picture), it is unhealthy to go overboard with measuring food, counting calories, etc. Most people who have ever tried to initiate healthier eating patterns have fallen into the rut of “well, I ate so much today, what’s another 500 calories”, and knowing exactly how much you “messed up” can send you into an even worse downward spiral. So, too much measuring and weighing is just like giving yourself another impossible standard to live up to. At the same time, these are things that can be used to educate or inform, and in that capacity, they are not only useful, but necessary. So it is a bit of a double edged sword. Or a challenge, if you will. :)

    Paige

    August 25, 2010

    Interesting. I weigh and count calories, but not as a total for the day – rather just to know what a meal or snack is in general. I know the calorie counts of many of the snacks I eat often: the standard portion of granola and milk, the smoothie I always make, a cup of apple sauce, a hard-boiled egg, etc. I also figure out calorie counts for meals that I make, and usually shoot for 500.

    However, the important thing with both of these examples isn’t the calorie count. With the snacks, it’s just having a standard serving that is my go-to. Pretty much any time of the day I could eat 1200 calories of granola and milk. But if I’m feeling hungry and have my standard serving (300 calories), I know that will usually take care of my hunger. If it doesn’t, I eat more! But without having that standard portion in mind, I would just eat a huge bowl and think nothing of it. With dinner, I have that 500 calorie target in mind, but think nothing of going a little over or a little under. I do it because I know that 500 calories can fill me up in a ton of forms, from pasta to pizza to steak to stir fry to pizza and on and on. But if I make up a meal that’s 500 calories but the serving is tiny, or I make up a well-sized serving and it’s way more than 500 calories, that’s a little alert to me that there is probably too much oil/butter/cheese/fatty meat/pasta and too little vegetable/whole grains/beans, etc. So again, it’s not really about the calories but just a way to keep most of my family’s meals satisfying and relatively healthy.

    Paige

    August 25, 2010

    pizza pizza – oops!

    roni

    August 25, 2010

    Julie – that’s a good question but I think part of the healthy relationship is knowing yourself. I don’t ALWAYS measure my cheese but I know when I’m making homemade pizza, for example, I can easily go overboard and put 3-4 times the amount I need or really want. It’s like my brain is still focused on extra cheese = good When really, a serving is all I need and is perfect. If I was weighing everything, all the time at this point (4 and half years maintaining) I think it would be a control issue but it’s not. It’s a “I know myself and I know I’m about to put an extra 3oo calories of cheese on this pizza, let’s pull out the scale and remind myself what a portion looks like.”

    Louise

    August 25, 2010

    I think we also need to bear in mind that sometimes the brain gets in the way of the full/empty switch not to mention hormones etc. I personally can have about a twenty minute delay before i register being full and then I am in danger of feeling ill because I have eaten way too much. I weigh certain foods and particularly cereal (I’m very vulnerable to this first thing) as my eyes are unreliable at this time. It’s not always the case and a lot of the time that switch works just fine. Having maintained my weight for the last six years I’m happy that I’ve made the necessary adjustments for me.

    Louise

    August 25, 2010

    sorry to continue but – I think I’m trying to say that it may be construed by certain folk to be obsessive, but it may be that for some this is a necessary thing.

    Roni –

    I think Dinneen @eatwithoutguilt is trying to promote her $200 “Intuitive Eating Success TeleCourse” weight loss program by being a bit controversial.

    Maybe some people can just eat by intuition, but I don’t know them.

    When portion sizes at quick serve and fast food restaurants are about twice the normal size… and every celebration, holiday, family function, birthday, and social event is about food (and the higher fat “treat” kinds of food, not healthy choices), I think the only healthy alternative is to count calories (or points), weigh both food and body, know how to estimate (deck of cards for portion, etc.) and read fat/fiber grams.

    Mouth / eyes can’t tell what stomach needs, just what mouth /eyes wants… Must get brain involved to override mouth/ eyes.

    Kerry

    August 25, 2010

    There’s a conflict it seems between eating intuitively and weighing/calorie counting – but I think the two approaches can live in harmony. For me, the times I calculate the points in a dish, etc, help me to eat intuitively other times. It’s great to know yourself, and just like the cheese on the pizza example, I know when my body would be better served by measuring.

    Julie - Big Girl Bombshell

    August 25, 2010

    Thanks for your answer Roni….That helps a lot.. The knowing myself is the biggest part that I am working on right now…

    Kimberli

    August 25, 2010

    In my personal opinion, I think (especially in the beginning/learning stage) counting calories and nutrient grams is absolutely essential (along with keeping a food log – again my personal opinion). While I agree it’s not something anyone wants to do for the rest of their lives, once you learn what a proper serving size is, what a properly balanced meal consists of, etc then you won’t need to be weighing out every meal, counting every calorie. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t come equipped with guages like a gas tank. You can overfill your tank with gas because there are guages which don’t allow you to do so. Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t as technologically advanced so we count calories to know how much to fuel bodies. As far as the proper mix of nutrients, I think of it like chemically treating a pool. You wouldn’t blindly throw in a mixture of pool chemicals to keep your pool’s chemical/ph balance would you? No, you need the proper mix of chemicals which is accomplished by measuring and weighing. Again, our bodies need the proper mix of nutrients accomplished by measuring and weighing. Just my two cents ;)

    Kimberli

    August 25, 2010

    of course, I meant: You CANNOT overfill your gas tank

    Christine

    August 25, 2010

    I count calories, but lately I have been reading books in the whole intuitive eating, health at every size genre, and I understand that it is still my way of “dieting” (which is not always the healthiest–espec. mentally cause I switch focus from my body to my head with the counting). When I eat intuitively, I notice that my body physically wants about the amount of food/calories it should be wanting–it is just my head that gets in the way! I want to get to basics and trust that my body knows what it needs–which means letting go of the weighing, counting, etc., so I can really “hear” my body. Hope this makes sense.

    Jes

    August 25, 2010

    Statements that *you* don’t have a healthy relationship with food (or any other similarly sweeping judgement that starts with “you”) generally reflect the speaker’s own issues/problems.

    If someone really has something useful or helpful to share about, well, anything, they usually start with “I have found that” or “for me…” etc. etc.

    You’re a good example of that, Roni, because you simply share with your readers what works for you – recipes, behavior modification etc. YOU have an excellent relationship with food, which is why I imagine you don’t spend much time criticizing other plans and telling people that “they” are unhealthy etc. etc.

    Good for you, Roni. Keep on keeping on.

    andrea @ Food Not Fuss

    August 25, 2010

    Roni, I totally agree with you on this one. My problem with this person’s comment (and with the whole concept of intuitive eating) is that it does not take into consideration that there are BIOLOGICAL reasons that some people overeat. There is a lot of research out there that shows that some people react to certain foods (typically sugar and white carbs) the way the some people react to alcohol. Lots of people drink alcohol but only some become alcoholics, right? And there is increasing research that this is related to some kind of pleasure receptors in your brain, how many you have, how sensitive they are, etc. Those same reactors can be triggered by foods as well. So for some people (me I think, and others I have seen) will never be able to have an ‘intuitive’ relationship with food. You know when you start eating something, and you start getting that sudden crazy, overpowering feeling that you want to EAT IT ALL, THE WHOLE BAG, RIGHT NOW? That’s not the side effect of a lifetime of ‘depriving’ yourself – that is a very real chemical reaction happening inside your brain. It is the SAME feeling alcoholics get when they take just one drink.

    So yeah, for me, counting calories and limiting portions on things that I know cause those reactions is going to be something I do forever. And that is a great and healthy place for me to be. :)

    Great post topic!

    Jes

    August 25, 2010

    I would also add that keeping a food journal is a recognized therapy for the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder and compulsive overeating. While this does not necessarily involve counting calories per se, keeping a record of what and when you eat has been shown to be a critical part of weight loss for many people. Not for everyone, of course.

    I like the gas tank analogy from Kimberli.

    Once I tried to stuff too much gas in my tank (topping it off) because I was getting “free” gas through another promotion.

    There was a flapper valve on my gas tank that got stuck into an open permanent position in my Toyota Camry. The check engine light came on. The car bucked like there was a missing spark plug or something. Missed 3 hours of work sitting at the dealership.

    My overstuffing the gas tank to save a few bucks ende up costing me $165 at the dealer because they had to remove the gas tank to get to the valve to reset it.

    Another good reason not to Top Off the Tank!

    LesleyG

    August 25, 2010

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “obsessively.” For me, letting go of the counting and calculating and worrying was the key to freeing my mind of the obsession. The argument behind this is, whether you binge and then feel guilt or go 35 calories over your daily allotment and feel guilt, you are still being obsessive. You’re a slave to a process and therefore never free. Sure, one way maybe you’re healthier, but sustaining that long term is impossible. So, in some ways you’re both right in that you realize you can use both internal and external tools to frame your relationship with food, but what it really comes down to is are you controlling it, or is it controlling you.

    Hila

    August 25, 2010

    I count and I measure. And to be honest when I have tried to stop, I find that my portion size grows quickly. What looked like the right around gets distorted fast! I think keeping a scale on my counter has helped me keep my weight down and I do feel like I could keep doing it forever. Its an easy step to ensure I stay at a weight I am happy with. My relationship with food is one of love, I love all food :) So this way I can eat what I love (everything ;) ) and be happy with the way my clothing fits!

    Jenn @ Watch My Butt Shrink

    August 25, 2010

    Personally – as someone who has a PROBLEM with food, meaning I am addicted, then yes – I DO need to count and weigh and measure. Because my brain doesn’t just “do” it automatically. If it did, I wouldn’t be almost 100 pounds heavier than I should be!
    In a perfect world, yes I would love to just eat what I need to survive, without all the counting, but that’s just not gonna happen for me. And I’m okay with that. I think counting gives me that “normal” relationship with food, because the relationship I have without counting calories is DEFINITELY not normal!

    Amanda G

    August 25, 2010

    I wanted to say that I think it is a personal choice. I choose to count calories/fat and weight alot of my food. I lost 110 pounds that way and have maintained that weight loss for 11 months the same way. I still go out to eat and go to parties and I took a 3 week cruise to Europe last year. In all those cases I didn’t and don’t count or weight my food. I trust myself to eat what is a healthy portion and hopefully healthier choices. I food journal and keep myself accountable. I intend to count and weight forever, but I don’t think it is an obsession since I can still live my life and not count or weight sometimes – it doesn’t stress me out.

    I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone else that their way is the wrong way. In any weight loss or maintenance part of the journey, it’s all about what works for the individual.

    Alli

    August 25, 2010

    I’ve recently begun to count calories as a way of portion control — I have two guy roommates and I sometimes forget I shouldn’t be matching them bite for bite! I use MyPlate through Livestrong, and it’s super easy.

    I also measure food, but no all the time — just when buying a new pasta or cereal, to know what a portion is, or when breaking out a “trigger” food (cheese, chocolate, salted nuts, etc.). Something that’s really helped me is dividing food as soon as I buy it. If I bring home a bag of chips and the nutrition facts say there are 6 servings in a bag, I will divide them into 6 ziploc baggies so I can better control my snacking!

    Agnes

    August 25, 2010

    Wow, just what I have been pondering lately. I have to agree with Dinneen. That’s the reason we’re all here right? We have a unhealthy relationship with food. So in the beginning we have to measure and count to get to know what a healthy portion is and how much an ounce of something looks like. But it’s not a long term sustainable thing for most, especially not for me. And that has been the down fall for me. That’s why I quit WW about 100 times. I just can’t count points! But I also believe that everyone is different and so whatever works for the individual is most important. I think about my naturally thin sister, who has never been overweight a day in her life (not even while pregnant). She doesn’t count calories or points or anything, and yet she doesn’t binge on cookies or sneak food or eat a whole bag of potato chips. In fact ice cream always gets freezer burn in her freezer because she never gets to it. Her brain is just wired different…that’s where I want to get. Stop obsessing with food – on both sides – weighing and counting compulsively or eating without control. I once read a weight loss story about a woman who after losing 100 pound would wear plastic gloves when baking cookies so she wouldn’t touch the sugar with her bare hands. Yikes! Balance that what it’s all about!

    Amy Eastlack

    August 25, 2010

    Wow – just came across this blog for the first time today and am loving reading it. So many great ideas, commments, and conversation.
    I’ve essentially been on all sides of the eating obsession/disorder/etc continuum and I really think that every person is different and it’s quite unfair to say that if one person’s way is wrong. There are always going to be different theories – some work for some and other don’t. The way people with eating disorders has changed over time – and will continue to do so. As we’ve read here, measuring can be a really healthy way to ensuring we are nurturing our bodies – and in the end I think that is a really good thing.

    Charlie Hills

    August 25, 2010

    I was about to chime in but realized Amy just above me said what I was going to say: I really think that every person is different and it’s quite unfair to say that if one person’s way is wrong.

    For the OP [original poster (or is it OT, for original tweeter?)] to say unequivocally that this is bad and No One should do it, just makes my common sense tingle. I’ve been around the block enough to know there’s no one size fits all theory. Just because we’re all humans and follow the same essential genetic blueprint, we’re all different. No one shares the same molecules. At an atomic level, I’m as different from you as I am from a giraffe. :)

    Sue

    August 25, 2010

    I think these things are just tools, and like all tools can be used, but also abused. When they are used in conjunction with judgement, self punishment and shame, then they are unhealthy. I use a (very loose) calorie count, an activity tally and, yes!, a scale just to “know” what is going into my body, what I’m doing for activity and where I am at. Not necessarily in relation to any sense of the “perfect” number or amount or anything, but to just to give myself a sense. Here’s the thing: Maybe it is about trust. But the fact is, for some of us (smart, capable, caring individuals), years of disordered eating, letting our emotions tell us if we were “fat” or “thin” and obsessive exercising means that we may need to rely on some tools (along with healthy healthy doses of self love, self care, and acceptance) to let us know what’s going on. I’m okay with it, knowing that I’m way healthier using these tools–Calories without judgement, exercise without obsession, Numbers without melodrama–as a part of learning about myself. Its just data. I’ve never felt better–inside or out.

    Hallie

    August 25, 2010

    This was such a great question and so timely for me. I need to go back and read the other questions, but I totally think it’s possible to count calories and have a healthy relationship with food. Maybe it’s not easy though? I’ve been trying calorie counting for the last month or so because the weight I’m trying to lose is NOT coming off, and I’ve never needed to count before, but like Dr. Phil would say, what I’ve been doing lately is not working for me, so I needed to try something new. I don’t think I’ll do this forever, and sometimes I don’t count when it’s too difficult to estimate, but for now it’s been interesting. I know I have a long way to go before I’m a totally intuitive eater, but in a weird way I think counting calories will help me get there. Because, so far it seems to help with the mindless eating, so that’s a start, right?

    Alish

    August 25, 2010

    I have to weigh/measure because that was what had me in trouble in the first place….I didn’t KNOW what a SERVING was until I did that! And this is a side note, but I feel more motivated by blogs or sites like this if I see food journals or measurements (cups or ounces) to help with daily food ideas. :)

    Darleen

    August 25, 2010

    I agree with most of the posts, and think we are on the correct path. It is the obsession and believing we need to look like the girl in the magazine, – when in fact she doesn’t even truly look like that due to airbrushing and photoshop!! I do not think we should be in denial, and become obese or even let ourselves go, with excuse that we are accepting our bodies as is – we should always do our best with everything and treating our bodies correctly, exercising and not letting ourselves go.

    I weigh myself to keep on track – once a week, as otherwise I sometimes lose track, and it is one of many things I do.
    It is because I care about my body and yes I care about how I look.
    I feel better – physically at a maximum weight, and things get our of control if I allow myself to nibble on the unhealthy foods and gain weight.
    I need to look at ingredients in food due to Fibromyalgia and health concerns, so I do.
    I do not count calories however, but do use the method of eating until full, and then stopping. I know what a proper amount of food should be.

    I occasionally allow myself to splurge, as I love chocolate and ice cream. I like wine and beer. I also like Baileys in my coffee. But not every day as my body will feel sluggish if I do, and I don’t want to gain excess weight.

    I cannot love my body when it is over weight, and if I did, I would be obese if I bought into that.

    I do love myself and that translates into being the best person I can be – inside and out!!

    Thanks for the outlet to express opinions.

    Lisa

    August 25, 2010

    I count calories. That’s how I lost my weight. After keeping it off for awhile, I thought I could stop counting. I gained about 15 pounds. I am back to counting calories and have lost 10 of those pounds. It works!

    Lissa

    August 25, 2010

    For me, it’s like balancing a checkbook. If I don’t weigh/measure/count, I’ll “overspend” what’s in my bank account.

    Over the past year, even before pregnancy, had been giving myself more freedom — and that has helped me get a better grip on eating intuitively, understanding the difference between hunger and emotional eating … and though people will tell me counting is “unhealthy” behavior, like you, Roni, I see it as a tool to my success at maintaining a healthy balance.

    And when the baby is here in a few months, I do plan to rejoin WW again; I know it works and helped keep me sane. But I’ll be doing it without the anxiety of the past, since I feel I have a more balanced, non-disordered frame of mind now.

    Rita @ The Giggly Bits

    August 25, 2010

    I had the pleasure of watching that yesterday while it was happening and it was delightful because I think that generalizing anything isn’t a good idea.

    I have been intuitively eating for a month after calorie counting for over a year to lose the weight. That was my goal but for me to discount counting, since it was such an integral part of my journey, would be naive and oversimplifying my journey.

    How we arrive at our eating destination has so many factors, and calorie counting served to educate me on portion size and calorie density, things I may have never learned if I tried to eat intuitively right from the start. I may also still be 223lbs too.

    Everything has it’s place.

    Danielle S

    August 25, 2010

    I saw this on my iphone last night as you guys tweeted but was too tired lol

    I agree with you Roni, I am an ex points counter – lost 75lbs counting points and now I count calories.

    I weight my meals – cereal, creamer in the morning, meat portions, and its more about portion control than seeing a number on the food scale – I have a bad eye when it comes to measuring like that – just like I use my WW 1/2 cup metal spoon to serve my rice – I dont find it obsessive or unhealthy I find it staying on control and its what works for me.

    As for long term – I feel as you do these programs whether you count points or calories – you are able to guetimate where you are in any given day – I need the structure of weighing and using my tools – on the weekends I guestimate and dont stress over it!

    =)
    Danielle

    Deb - comfycozycrazy

    August 25, 2010

    If you’re in weight loss mode it is important to count. I’m counting points, have been for 2 1/2 years. I’m not at goal yet, so I don’t see stopping any time soon. Even when I am at goal, counting seems to come so natural to me, I look at something and automatically see a point value. Is this healthy? I can’t honestly say. I do know that it has helped me get 75 pounds off that I couldn’t seem to do before. I know that I am healthier than I was 75 pounds ago. And if it’s counting that got me there, then there’s gotta be something good about it. I love the idea of intuitive eating. The problem is, I think at some point you still have to take stock of where your body is and what you’re putting into it. I hate to say it, but I intuitively LOVE chocolate and ice cream and pizza. I used to have a bowl of ice cream every night after the kids went to sleep because I truly felt like I needed it. That kind of intuition is gonna get me my 75 pounds right back on my butt. There has to be some discipline, even when feeding yourself what you think you need.

    Hope that made sense!

    Mary Anne

    August 25, 2010

    I’m a licensed psychologist, and I wholeheartedly disagree that weighing food or keeping track of fat/calories is unhealthy. No way, no how. The only way that behavior in itself could be unhealthy is if the weighing/counting is interfering with some other aspect of your life… like you get fired because you come back late from lunch every day because you weighed/counted your food for most of it. I don’t care if you are counting every grain of rice. It is not until it significantly interferes with some aspect of your life that it becomes unhealthy. Now, WHAT and how much you eat as a result of that counting/weighing is another story altogether!

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 25, 2010

    Wow — I had no idea my comments on Twitter last night would create such a stir! But I’m grateful for the discussion. I appreciate all of your thoughts and comments – both ones that agree and disagree – as we all have a right to our opinions and sharing what works (or doesn’t work) for each of us only help others even more.

    So thanks!

    As I was limited to my 140 characters per ‘tweet’ yesterday, I’d like to clarify a few things:

    But first let me state that as someone who has worked with hundreds (if not thousands) of women (and yes, even some men!) with weight-loss, healthy eating, and having a healthy relationship with food – along and with my education and background in nutrition, and from my personal experience – these are my personal thoughts.

    I do agree that counting calories can be helpful at first, which I did mention in my tweet yesterday :)

    With the portion sizes today, and the unhealthy (and often hidden) ingredients in food today, along with so many other factors today…..we do need to educate ourselves.

    However – I have found that ‘counting’ cannot be sustainable over the long-run. And many studies show that diets don’t work. And pretty much most diets consist of counting in some shape or form (but that’s not the only reason typical diets don’t work).

    One such study was done by UCLA on the effectiveness of dieting. Among those who were followed, 83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost. If you were sick and the doctor suggested a something that would make you worse, would you still follow it? (Just something to consider…)

    While counting clearly works for some people in the short-term, I personally don’t recommend calorie counting to my clients because I think it is a time-consuming task that often makes people more anxious about what they are eating rather than eating based on feelings of hunger and satiety. I teach my clients how to read nutrition labels and ingredients in food so they can make educated decisions about what to eat, but having them count numbers for the rest of their lives (and who wants to?? Surely not me…) is just not sustainable.

    And if you look closer – the majority of people trying to lose weight….it’s not just about the ‘food.’

    In a nutshell — Our relationship with food goes BEYOND food. It’s not that we “just love food” or that “we can’t stop eating” or that we “overeat.” Sure, these are things that people do – by WHY they do that is what one needs to look at.

    Counting calories is not going to help you in that area. In order to lose weight, and keep it off for the long-run (which is often the most difficult) one needs to look at themselves and their body as a whole – and not just what is on their plate.

    All too often calorie counting is just another way of feeling one has ‘control’ over food. But if you think about it, if one is constantly counting calories, fat grams and weighing their food – who REALLY has control?

    Now all of this said – let me point out that a lot of my clients are either former or current Weight Watchers people (and all have been one 3 or more diets). So they still ‘count’ their points, but over time working with me they see the weight loss is so much more than just numbers. And more than just calories in vs. calories out (as we’re all different and process calories differently…but that could be a blog post in itself).

    On top of that – everyone is different! And in my work I look at each individual and they have to find what works for them.

    If one does count calories (or points, or fat grams or whatever) eventually one needs to focus on how food makes you FEEL (which I pointed out in the Twitter discussion last night). And one needs to start looking for INTERNAL cues, as opposed to external cues (like counting and weighing) in order to really keep the weight off.

    As anyone who has followed me for a while, knows that I don’t push my beliefs or opinions on them. My goal is for everyone to find what works for them as an individual. But I still say that if one counts calories, fat grams, or weighs food does not have a healthy relationship with food.

    Because food is controlling you. And you’re not listening to your internal cues. Yes, it does take time to get to that place – and ‘counting’ can be a tool one uses at the beginning of their journey (as hey, it is a journey!), but for sustainable weight-loss and to have a positive relationship with food, counting will not ‘solve’ your issues.

    Because if losing weight, and having a healthy relationship with food were just about the FOOD, many more people would not be overweight.

    Hey, we all KNOW how to lose weight – so what’s holding us back? That’s a good question for us to ponder.

    But I enjoy this discussion and I appreciate everyone’s feedback!
    Thanks Ronni for opening this discussion even more :)

    I have to say that I agree Roni, that there has to be a balance. When I finally got serious abbout losing weight after years of jockeying around I kept a food journal, the toughest thing I ever had to do, I hated it, but it kept me accountable, eyeball my calories and tp look at my week at a glance so I knew when to give and take. I also logged my exercise and water, I lost 58 pounds, need to lose 15 more. I journaled every week for 55 weeks, some weeks I logged every day, others when I was more confident With myself and not binging it went to 1-2x a week. Suddenly, I found myself off track, and guess who is journaling again? This girl because I KNOW MYSELF and what works for ME – a few weeks of journaling and I’ll be able to feel confident again. It’s about finding a system, “thing”, “plan”, whatever that works for you, and you only. This CAN NO WAY be a general answer for the total popluation of individuls that want to lose weight. Just my humble opinion!

    Jeri Lyn

    August 25, 2010

    I count calories, watch my fat, watch my carbs, watch my sugar & weigh my food. I also struggle daily to have a healthy relationship with food. Let’s face it, i’m not sure there are very many people who have a “healthy” relationship with food. That’s why there are so many overweight & obese people in this world. So why not use some of the tools that are offered to us?? I LOVE my food scale, but also don’t take it to restaurants with me!! ;)

    Tami@nutmegnotebook

    August 25, 2010

    Hot topic! Yes I do weigh and measure my food sometimes not all the time. I do use a food scale when I am cooking for accuracy. I can’t help but count WW points after having done so for many years. I don’t obsess about it and I think I have a very healthy relationship with food. It is not a one size fits all when it comes to weight loss and disordered eating. We all have to find the right balance for us.

    Christine

    August 25, 2010

    Saying I should not count calories is like saying I should not balance my checkbook. Certain checks and balances are required to keep my spending at bay and my food consumption as well. Not everyone is like this but for me its a necessity.

    Colleen

    August 25, 2010

    I actually just started weight watchers so I’m measuring out all of my portions so that I am honest about my points. That being said, my portions were way out of control, lol. My breakfast yesterday ate up half of my points. I am learning how to properly nourish my body now.

    Jen @ KUrunner

    August 25, 2010

    I don’t think counting/weighing/Points/whatever is inherently bad. But I don’t think it’s a long-term way to maintain weight. I mean, I’m sure there are people who have counted every calorie that goes in their mouths for 20 years — but I definitely wouldn’t consider that to be a healthy relationship with food.

    Of course, I’m more of a Geneen Roth sort of girl.

    Jen @ KUrunner

    August 25, 2010

    Oh, and just to add, I think that if someone had a healthy relationship with food, they would never have gotten to the point where they need to count calories. Judging from the comments, it’s probably not a popular opinion, but if someone’s eating was “normal,” chances are they wouldn’t be overweight.

    (And no, I don’t consider my eating normal.)

    krissie

    August 25, 2010

    I had a strong reaction last night to the tweets. I even outlined a response (on paper!) and let myself sit with it until today. And then I decided to do a post of my own instead of just here.

    But my 2cents? I count calories. I’m not obsessive, but I count. It may not be what I want to do every day, but when I look at when I’m losing weight vs. when I’m gaining weight, the behavior that makes or breaks it is counting calories. I eat quality foods, I indulge every now and then, I’m not perfect. But I’m counting.

    And, when I do it correctly, it works. And I think it improves my relationship with food. Because it makes me take the time to notice, enjoy, and respect food.

    Nice question. Thank you for standing up for the counters/measurers out there!

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 25, 2010

    Thanks to Jen @ KURunner for saying it VERY well: “I think that if someone had a healthy relationship with food, they would never have gotten to the point where they need to count calories.”

    EXACTLY. If you had a healthy relationship with food, then you wouldn’t need to count or be counting calories.

    Counting calories can assist you in getting to a place where you have a healthy relationship with food — but as I stated in my original tweet….if you DO count calories you do not have a healthy relationship with food.
    Get it?

    Darleen

    August 25, 2010

    All wonderful comments. I agree mostly with @ KURunner for saying it VERY well: “I think that if someone had a healthy relationship with food, they would never have gotten to the point where they need to count calories.”

    However – here is my story abbreviated as I am 55 :)
    I ate whatever I wanted my entire life, and stopped eating when full, and did not eat anything I did not enjoy. Eating for me has always been due to being hungry. Certain foods I enjoy more than others.
    My mother instilled healthy eating patterns and fact we did not have excess dollars for junk food while growing up. When I left home I rebelled a bit and drank lots of pepsi, and stuffed myself with donuts, chocolate bars and gave up on apples and other fruit. I stuck with meat, potatoes and vegetables – as I always liked. I soon began craving apples and other fruit, and eat them daily ever since. I slowly weaned myself off pepsi as it made me feel ill, and cut back on chocolate bars, chips and other snack junk foods over the years in order to keep my weight in check – about age 45. I never gained weight and in fact until I was 45, I was considered to be underweight but mostly healthy. I never dieted, other than after having my babies I started eating breakfast more regularly, as post baby 5 lbs was sticking and I wanted to look good in a bikini – it worked and I stuck to eating breakfast.
    Once I hit perimenopause however, the weight started to stick.
    That was about age 45 – 52. Once reaching menopause I have more weight on me than I feel comfortable with, and struggle to get to where I do feel comfortable – not a number, just where I am comfortable with my aging body :) So far I have had to learn more about food than I ever have before, simply due to fact my body is processing food differently.
    If I ate now when I was hungry only – it would be rarely, as I often do not feel hungry. I do have Fibromyalgia and have used nutrition and exercise to manage, and will be doing a 7 day cleanse according to Dr Mark Hyman’s books starting Sept 12th, and try to sort out which foods are giving me problems. I exercise to feel better, not to look better.

    So we need to listen to our bodies, and learn what is good for us, and learn what works best for each of our bodies. Definitely we should not obsess, or go by what the latest trends are in fashion – or try to be someone we can never be. It is similar to how we manage our hair – I have short hair and feel great with short hair, while others would not feel right with short hair. I love the colour red – you might hate it. BE true to you. Eat for enjoyment of taste and to sustain your body, the best way possible.

    As @lissa notes that she treats eating like balancing a checkbook – which is one method that others I have encountered. It works as focuses on eating healthy but not denying yourself anything, not counting and eating for enjoyment of food – the French method :) Very similar to intuitive eating that Dineen teaches and coaches with Eating Without Guilt.

    It is not always that you do not have a healthy relationship with food, you may be not eating foods that your body can process properly, and changes in your body. This happened to me. You are what you eat they say — and most of my life – I was a cupcake!! Now I need to be a healthy cupcake :)

    Oh — taking scale into restaurant? Love it!! I would like to do, just to get reactions – video it and post on YouTube. I only weigh foods when cooking and baking to get accurate measurements. But would be a hoot to haul out a large scale and start weighing the food at the restaurant table!!

    Thanks Roni for expanding the chat from last night, from myself as well, so could get some things said.
    I feel better now. And hungry.

    Blake

    August 25, 2010

    Do what works for you. Everyone has their own ideas of what a “healthy relationship with food” is. If counting calories or whatever helps you make better decisions and helps you stay healthy, great.

    Pubsgal

    August 25, 2010

    From my perspective (person with type 2 diabetes), when I was starting out, I had to focus on learning the mechanics of eating-to-my-body’s-needs first. So there was a lot of working with a nutritionist and doctor, weighing and measuring foods, meal planning, carb counting, food journaling, and tracking how foods affected my blood glucose levels. As Evelyn Tribole (co-author of the “Intuitive Eating” book and MS RD) states, “Hunger and fullness cues are not accurate when you are in the midst of an eating disorder. Diabetes can make it even more complicated. For example, elevated blood sugars can cloud thinking and make it difficult to beattuned to your body.” (Article, “Can Intuitive Eating Be Used to Treat Diabetes and Bulimia,” http://l.wbx.me/l/?p=1&u=http://nutrition-info-411.evelyntribole.com)

    Over time, I’ve internalized a lot of the processes. I still track my blood glucose levels daily; I do some “spot checking” of my weighing and measuring to ensure that I maintain a realistic sense of portions; I make sure that I watch my carb intake, focusing on higher-quality carbs and balancing them across meals; and the like. I’ve worked to remove the “forbidden fruit” aspect of my food, and I’m comfortable with my particular balance of mechanical/intuitive eating. I’m not sure if this qualifies as “having a healthy relationship with food,” but it’s keeping my body healthy (so say my a1c and cholesterol numbers). That’s what counts for me.

    Lydia

    August 25, 2010

    Sue says it as I would: “I’m okay with it, knowing that I’m way healthier using these tools–Calories without judgment, exercise without obsession, Numbers without melodrama–as a part of learning about myself. Its just data. I’ve never felt better–inside or out.”

    Michele

    August 25, 2010

    I lost 65 pounds on Weight Watchers 3 years ago. I no longer count anything but I weigh and measure just about everything. When I go out, I eat what I want and I don’t worry about it. I would not say my relationship with food is unhealthy because I weigh everything. I just like to keep my portions in control.

    Paula

    August 25, 2010

    I watch the fat content & that has helped me alot. I am currently counting calories, but it has been recommended to weigh as it is more accurate than cups. Any ideas on that? I have been told you have a very accurate scale can you tell me what kind it is? What is your thoughts on measuring vs weighing?

    RG

    August 25, 2010

    Ironically, I think counting helps me the most when I’m overeating. If I eat in an ideal manner – fruits, low-fat dairy, protein, large vegetable servings – then I know I’m okay. But when I’m eating junk, it’s easy to lose track of how much I’ve eaten. If I overreact and think I’ve destroyed the week, then it’s hard to get back on track. If I measure, then I think “okay this was a small/ medium/ large splurge, but the net effect is that I’m not losing weight today/ 3 days but I’m still losing weight over the week/ month”. I think counting is a way to become “intuitive”, meaning that I don’t think the brain can hold the information of everything I’ve eaten for a month but it can hold the pattern of calorie in/ out. Can you imagine marathon training without knowing how far or how long your long run was every Saturday? That’s how I diet, not aiming for perfection but just aiming to be a little better this week than last week.

    Josie- Skinny Way Of Life

    August 25, 2010

    I think weighing and counting is unrealistic in a way..here’s my reason, I’ve been overweight since the age of 3 and I can look back now and not remember one time being hungry. I never FELT hungry, I would eat and eat because it was there and I liked the taste. I came to know the overeating bloated feeling as being satisfied.

    When I became a teenager and decided to make a difference in the way I ate and lived I had to LEARN what hungry was and what satisfied actually felt like. I still struggle with this. I’ve tried weighing my food but I felt constricted and would wind up overeating later.

    For me, it’s a mental game. I have to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and at times I have to stop in the middle of a meal and ask myself if I’m truly hungry anymore. It’s been a long process but by listening to my body I’ve been able to keep a 50lb weightloss through college and 2 pregnancies : )

    Stephanie

    August 26, 2010

    I definitely agree with you. I would even go a bit further… As long as the food I put into my body is healthy and balanced it doesn’t really matter if I count calories or fat or even weigh out things at the restaurant or a friend’s party. If I feel good with what I am doing and the result is good for me it’s fine.

    I have to count. I get off track as soon as I do not count. Years ago a day without counting would keep me off track for maybe half a year. By now I have learned to get back and it’s just about 6 to 10 lb my weight goes up and down and not 30 to 50. I like to eat, I like food but I need help with the balance-thing.

    Cindy Hanson

    August 26, 2010

    Well, duh. Of course counting, weighing, and journalling signal “an unhealthy relationship with food.” BUT SO DOES LABELING YOUR OBSESSION WITH FOOD “INTUITIVE.” The only way most of us would be truly intuitive eaters is if we suddenly found ourselves in a hunter-gatherer society, chasing after our meals, intuitively punching out anyone who might be pulling ahead of us in the race for the gazelle. It is absolutely natural to desire more food when more food is available, and in our food-glutted society, when is it not? The entire “intuitive eating” thing irritates me. It’s just another way to sell another book and another diet, and another way to make people feel bad about their choices….so they’ll buy the book and the diet. PS: I can’t wait to see the stats on weight loss maintainance for the inuitive eaters in about 10 years…when the fad is long gone, replaced by the next thing to sell and to buy.

    Emily Rose (@FitTwitEmily)

    August 26, 2010

    Cindy – THANK YOU for that post!!!

    Nicole S.

    August 26, 2010

    I’m not sure if anyone brought this up, but what about people like me who have a food addiction? That’s like telling a crack addict to manage their addiction by how they feel. It’s been a life long battle for me and I’ve finally reached a point, like you Roni, where I’ve learned to listen to my body more. However, I still need those controls to fall back on because the biggest problem with an addiction is that oftentimes your brain chooses to disregard your body no matter how hard you try.

    Cindy Hanson

    August 26, 2010

    You’re welcome, Emily Rose. I do not have a blog, nor do I comment often, but the spirit moved me on this one.
    Nicole, I think you make an important point, one that most people can sympathize with, even if they do not have a food addiction.
    I commend “EatWithoutGuilt” for following up her tweet with a long comment here, but in my opinion, she uses “studies” to create fear in those of us who have found other ways to manage our food intake. EVERY normal-sized person I know uses different strategies to control their weight when it starts moving up the scale. My mom is 71, plays tennis four times a week, and she has been slender most of her life; nevertheless, she loves to eat and love a glass (or two) of wine in the evenings. Whenever the scale moves too far up, she cuts back on her intake or the wine. It may not be a formal system of calorie counting, but it amounts to the same thing, and she’s done it all her life. My husband has been super skinny all his life, but every so often, he gains 10 lbs or so. When he does, he cuts back on snacks. Since I was 19, I have been on WW, have counted carbs, calories, etc. I’m 49 and I’ve never been more than 15 lbs. overweight in all these years, even counting when I was pregnant. Counting CAN be sustained for a lifetime, and I consider it a lifesaver in my case. DO NOT feel guilty or helpless about the ways you stay healthy!
    Rant over. :)

    roni

    August 26, 2010

    And that, Cindy, is EXACTLY why I disagreed with her initial tweet. Why make people feel bad for finding a system that works for them? Especially if they are happier and healthier because of it!

    Cindy Hanson

    August 26, 2010

    Exactly! The reason I love reading your blog, Roni, is *because* you have a healthy relationship to food, and even more important, to yourself.

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 26, 2010

    I’d like to point out that my initial tweet had NOTHING to do with people doing what works for them! If you followed what I did, you’d know I HELP people find what works for THEM.

    And my original tweet of counting calories meant if you were counting calories EVERY DAY (again, in a 140 character tweet I’m limited) especially over a period of years, hell yes, that’s not healthy.

    Cutting back from time-to-time or counting from time-to-time is fine. Like I ALWAYS say, it’s about moderation in everything. Which I agreed with you on Twitter during that same conversation.

    I also do not always ‘back up’ my info with statistics and studies. But when almost every single study out there says that dieting doesn’t work for the majority of the people out there — with a failure rate anywhere between 80-95%…well, that tells you something.

    If counting calories, fat grams and weighing food worked over the long term (what is typical of most of the traditional ‘diets’ out there), then we wouldn’t be a nation of overweight and obese people.

    Yes, I get there are other reasons — but as anyone who has successfully lost weight and kept it off for more than 5 yrs can tell you, it’s not just about the “food” (or the calories, fat grams, etc).

    It’s about learning to listen to YOU and YOUR BODY more, and not always looking to outside things (like scales, fat grams, etc) for the magic solution.

    And it’s not just about intuitive eating (which people seem to assume that’s all I teach). I help people find what works for THEM. And if counting calories works for you — I say go for it!

    All I meant in my original tweet is that if you obsessively count (like all the freakin time)….then that is not having a healthy relationship with food.

    And I did NOT mean it for anyone to feel guilt EVER about eating something, counting something — I mean heck, my business name is eat WITHOUT guilt! C’mom! That’s what I have always stood for, and what I will continue to stand for.

    Carol

    August 26, 2010

    I think as a society that we don’t know what a true “portion” size looks like! I don’t see the harm in weighing your food until you become adjusted as to what portions look like. I for one tend to think my portion sizes should be bigger than they actually are, so weighing my food keeps me on the right path.

    roni

    August 26, 2010

    Dinneen – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel like you were being put under a microscope. or being attacked in any way.

    I think the reason why I responded to your initial tweet and why others have followed suit is because you made a blanket statement that infers (I understand the 140 thing but this is besides the point) that those of us that do count or weigh have an unhealthy relationship food. End of period. End of story. You even ended the tweet with a snarky “Sorry to tell you that..” like we are clueless of this fact or need help in some way.

    I don’t want this to get to out of hand or for anyone to feel like they are getting attacked but I’m glad we had our initial interaction because it has start a wonderful in depth conversation!

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 27, 2010

    I know it wasn’t your original intention to have me put under a microscope (or feel like I was). From the start I saw that you were just trying to create a dialog — and a healthy one (no pun intended!)– and it was all in good intentions.

    However, when people are commenting saying or implying that I’m just trying to sell my courses (what?!), or that I’m trying to make people feel guilty (um, the name of my business clearly implies that I don’t…), and implying that I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about (though I’ve been trained in nutrition, have had my own issues with food and my relationship with it, and have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of women with their body image and weight loss issues)….

    and I’ve been taught & trained by some of the world’s top leaders in nutrition (including mind-body, emotional eating, etc….) including: Geneen Roth, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Walter Willet (head of Nutrition at Harvard)…..just to name a few…

    So when people are commenting and implying (or clearly stating) those things I mentioned — then heck yes, I’m going to feel attacked and put under a microscope.

    Which is the reason why I added in additional comments earlier to state my point of view and to clarify my original tweets — and the reason for my private inquiry to you asking if you’d allow me to explain my side.

    As it is your blog, I expected you would have chimed in or at least replied to my private request earlier.

    So when me and my business — and the integrity of both of them — are being scrutinized and attacked – then I’m going to stand up and protect it. And I would hope you would do the same if you were in the same situation.

    Amanda G

    August 27, 2010

    I think Dinneen is still missing the point that some are trying to make. She states that she helps people find whatever works for them but that if counting and weighing work for them, it’s unhealthy.

    Counting and weighing does not work for everybody and some can become obsessed with counting. However, just because you count or weigh does automaticly mean it is unhealthy. Cindy has counted for 30 years. She sounds like she is in control of her eating. I hope I can use that as an inspiration.

    I have been maintaining for a year by counting and do not intend to stop. It does not weigh on my mind when I’m out – I still enjoy myself and if I happen to eat something that I don’t know the points for then I just don’t count that day. But I count for 99% of the time and I think this is the healthiest relationship I have ever had with food.

    roni

    August 27, 2010

    Dinneen,

    First of all I misinterpreted your private message. My apologies. I thought you were asking me to write a guest post explaining my point of view. Hence my response of “I don’t have time at the moment.” to which you never responded to nor attempted to clarified. Regardless, I did misread and I’m sorry.

    However, I don’t appreciate you telling me I should have chimed in earlier. It is my blog (as you stated) and I thought I did a good job of responding as soon as I felt you were starting to get attacked. I monitor all my comments throughout the day but I’m not online every moment to immediately catch a comment that you may find insulting. My response to your DMs were also as timely as possible. I manage my time the best I can.

    You have every right to stand up and protect your point of view and I appreciate you doing so. As I stated earlier, I didn’t want this to get out of hand but I can see it may have already been too late for that.

    As this is my blog I will defend my point of view as well. At the end of the day you still made a blanket statement that makes people feel ashamed or guilty (yes, guilty) about a particular approach to eating (ie counting or weighing) that, as you can tell from some of the prior comments, is working for people. The funny thing is I agree with you. Counting got me to the point where I don’t need to count. I’m not obsessive about weighing every little thing but doing so initially taught me so many invaluable lessons and got me to this point. But again… saying, profusely and without a doubt that “if one counts calories, fat grams, or weighs food [one] does not have a healthy relationship with food.” well, it’s insulting and and simply not true. There isn’t a one size fits all lifestyle. Everyone needs to find what works for them and that may very well include counting and weighing. This is the point you don’t seem to understand. You are completely discounting an approach that works for me and many others.

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 27, 2010

    And if you read my further explanation — along w/my tweet:

    “Counting calories can help in beginning…but not sustainable. No way. Not over long run. And who wants to?”

    I AGREE that counting can help to get people to a place where they DO have a healthy relationship with food — hence, do not need to count anymore (at least not on a day to day basis). Exactly what I explained in a previous comment in more detail.

    And to your comment: “There isn’t a one size fits all lifestyle. Everyone needs to find what works for them and that may very well include counting and weighing. This is the point you don’t seem to understand.”

    I have repeated over & over that everyone needs to find what works for them. I’ve stated that more than once. I agree with that. And in our original tweets, you mentioned it’s about education & balance — which I agreed with :)

    However, losing weight and having a healthy relationship with food are NOT the same thing. A lot of people I work with have very UNhealthy relationships with food — yet half of them are NOT overweight.

    And all too often its the dieting, counting, etc over years that brought them to the point that food is no longer just food. And why they have a broken relationship with food.

    Being “thin” does not equal having a healthy relationship w/food. Just like being overweight does not equal an unhealthy relationship with food.

    roni

    August 27, 2010

    Again.. we agree and I think we have always been on the same page. My only issue is that you don’t see (or you refuse to admit) how your initial tweet does help spread a message of shame and guilt. Like, by counting or weighing we are doing something wrong. That is really the only thing I took issue with. That’s what started this whole conversation.

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 27, 2010

    I don’t see how one tweet spreads a message of shame & guilt. Whether it be from me or anyone else. Again, why people need to listen to themselves and not outside forces. Then can listen to it, use it as education or whatever — but if they feel guilt by reading one tweet, then there is definitely something deeper going on (in my opinion).

    That was not my intention at all. It was merely reply to the tweet chat — as people over & over tell themselves they do have a healthy relationship with food – yet break out in a sweat because whole milk has 8 grams of fat (!) and can’t ever bear themselves to drink it.

    And then they feel guilty because: 1) they really want the whole milk, but don’t have it because it will make them feel ‘guilty’ 2) they have the skim milk but then aren’t satisfied 3) they have the whole milk but feel guilt or are ashamed because they’re not ‘supposed’ to have anything over 5 grams of fat (or whatever is the latest trend…)

    If one tweet makes someone feel guilty — then that was never my intention.

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 27, 2010

    Oh…and I never said counting was WRONG — I said if you count you do not have a healthy relationship with food.

    Darleen

    August 27, 2010

    All good posts. I don’t agree with the statement:” If you count you do not have a healthy relationship with food.”
    I might be better to say, that you are fooling yourself if you only count calories. As not all calories are equal, but I believe everyone in this discussion I think realizes this, and about a balanced diet etc.
    Also many have gone from calorie counting to intuitive style eating – the progression seems to help, since has developed nutritional savvy and then can learn how to enjoy each mouthful.
    I never set out to make Dineen feel under attack – but more clarification. I have been troubled lately with many that promote loving your body as it is NOW, in order to get results with making it better. That does not work for me and many others – and I wonder at this recommendation. How can loving something that I do not like – help me to get to a body that I like? I believe it is regarding letting go of the negative thoughts and messages sent to ourselves, thus we will get more negative coming back, as we have programmed our minds that we are worthless fat blobs. So we need to focus on positive.
    Maybe we should all focus on positive in this discussion to take it to a happy ending?
    Just my thoughts.

    roni

    August 27, 2010

    YES! I’d love to end it on a positive and I appreciate you bringing it back around as I don’t see us resolving the initial discussion at all.

    On that positive note I think many of us that were involved in this conversation have found our own unique ways to find balance and live just a little bit healthier. That may mean enjoying the whole milk or it may mean learning to appreciate the skim (or in my case the almond. ;). Regardless, we don’t need to feel shame or guilt for our food choices. It’s about making the most educated conscious decisions that are right for us.

    rollercoaster

    August 27, 2010

    Wow, I love this dialog about this topic. It really brings to light the true, deeper issues surrounding food. So many times we attach value judgements to eating (this food is bad, that food is good, I am bad because I am fat, I am bad if I count calories, I am good if I count calories). All of this judgement, regardless of how we each apply it to ourselves, is what contributes to the unhealthy relationship with food. We are each acting out our irrational beliefs using food.

    If someone reads the tweet and feels guilty for counting calories, it’s because the tweet triggered them to feel like they are doing something wrong. Are they doing something wrong? Of course not! Counting calories is not inherently right or wrong. However if we use it to place value on ourselves (I went over my calories so I am bad, I stayed on target for calories so I am good) THAT is where the problem lies. A more rational way of looking at it would be straight facts, I went over my calories, tomorrow I will try harder. I stayed on target for my calories, I will effort to do the same tomorrow.

    Blanket statements generally get us in trouble because everyone is different. The goal is balance and not feeling we are “good” or “bad” in relation to our food intake.

    Foodie McBody

    August 29, 2010

    Wow. I have so much to say here. I actually can’t believe that Dineen said that – twice! because she has been such an amazing support to me, and I had no idea she believes that.
    I do count points (um, I am a WW leader) AND I have a food blog. I believe that being mindful and aware are both really a part of having a healthy relationship with food. I think that what one DOES with that information (calories, points, weighing food, whatever) is where the “unhealthy” part can come in. If one uses that information to feel guilty, to punish oneself, to say that you or your food is “bad,” well, I think those are all unhealthy ways of relating to food. But for me, often I’m just curious. I’m trying to understand my own patterns. I want to be an informed consumer of food. Often I am surprised by what I find if I count or weigh my food and I’ll decide to choose differently- mindfully.
    I’m fascinated by the differences between “mindful” and “intuitive” and while they share many commonalities, I also think there are distinctions between the two. I think I’m coming down strongly in the mindful camp, which includes utilizing information like calories, one’s own weight, weighing food etc., but in a calm and stress-free way.

    Dinneen @EatWithoutGuilt

    August 31, 2010

    Darleen, rollercoaster, and Foodie McBody — you have great insight and I agree with what you all are saying!

    It’s just unfortunate that my original tweet, along with my follow-ups, were meant to do good and not make anyone feel guilt or shame. But yes, it’s all coming around to the positive which is healthy :)

    All of you mentioned one of the things I was trying to put out there — that counting points, calories or whatever can be part of a healthy relationship with food. What one DOES with that information, and how they use it — is often where the unhealthy part can come in.

    And as @rollercoaster put well into words — “I might be better to say, that you are fooling yourself if you only count calories.” I agree. And then she also said well: “Counting calories is not inherently right or wrong. However if we use it to place value on ourselves (I went over my calories so I am bad, I stayed on target for calories so I am good) THAT is where the problem lies.” I completely agree again.

    A LOT of the people I work with are on or follow Weight Watchers, or and working with me they still count points. And I encourage them to continue what’s working for them — and tweaking some things better fit for their body.

    And for those who eventually wean off counting per se, I personally feel it’s okay to go back to it to “check-in” or regroup, or be more mindful as to how much one is eating.

    Patty @NYC Girl at Heart

    September 1, 2010

    I weigh all new foods until I become comfortable to what a serving size is. Each person’s relationship with food is their own, it may take years to even recognize that one piece of information. I like the way you make scales, weighing self and weighing food all seem like tools to help. I’m getting that in my head so they don’t feel like chores. Journaling…still a chore for me!

    MargieAnne

    September 2, 2010

    counting calories was easy before we went metric in the ’60s. New Zealand. Ever tried to cope with kilojoules or worse conversion?

    Weighing is very occasional and only used to check portion sizes when they might be getting ridiculous or for new foods.

    Counting Grams of carbohydrate was useful until I understood portion sizes.

    I 100% agree with Kimberli quoted here.

    ‘Kimberli { 08.25.10 at 7:42 am }

    In my personal opinion, I think (especially in the beginning/learning stage) counting calories and nutrient grams is absolutely essential (along with keeping a food log – again my personal opinion).’

    As for whether counting is unhealthy … Being fat is unhealthy. If counting helps eat healthy foods and balance nutritional needs then counting is healthy. But I do understand that counting can be a symptom of an unhealthy relationship with food.

    I’m not perfect. I think I generally have a good relationship with food but the fat I carry and my history of yo-yo dieting tells another story.

    Let personal experience and peace of mind be the guide is quite possibly the best advice. Learning good nutrition is imperative.

    I no longer count calories, points, fat grams. I have decided to focus on eating real seasonal food in moderation and trust my body but this has been a long journey to reach this point. I think you need to do what works for you and that intention is very important. If counting/measuring is a way to deny/deprive your body of what it needs to be nourished it probably isn’t the healthiest approach. But if you are doing it from a position of love and desire to take care of your body, than it is a healthy approach. I agree that it probably isn’t sustainable for most people and that is why so many of us end up yo-yoing. At 47 I have decided to pursue a nourishing intuitive path and work with others who desire the same, but it is a personal choice. There is no one right way to lose weight and nourish yourself.

    Lisa

    December 14, 2010

    I counted my calories to lose over 100 pounds and it worked. I just counted calories–nothing else. And I’ve kept it off for 2.5 years now. I still count my calories.