Food Math

Being fat most of my life, I’ve been made aware of most diets. I know a few people that have lost their weight by counting calories or through Weight Watchers by counting points and it always made me wonder why anyone would want to turn a meal into math?

Now I find myself doing that exact same thing.

I’m working on trying to lose the forty pounds I gained after I lost it the first time. This, of course, involves exercising, but it also involves me trying to change the way that I eat. Actually, I don’t eat too poorly compared to some people, but I could always make improvements.

In my quest for better health knowledge, I stumbled on a site that calculates how man calories you should consume during a day given your activity level to lose weight. I thought it might be a good guideline for me, not that I wanted to obsessively start counting calories or anything, but if I had a general idea of how much I was consuming, it might help me lose weight.

At first, it was an interesting educational experience, especially when it came to serving sizes (really, how many people use 1/4 cup of syrup on their pancakes?) and just how much you could eat on a certain number of calories a day.

Now understand, I didn’t exactly limit myself. I just adjusted my choices to a point so the math would work out. It all worked out for the most part.

And then the guilt started creeping in.

Guilt attached to going over my “limit”. Guilt attached to still being hungry after I finished my serving. Guilt attached to that second cup of coffee.

I have a good relationship with my food. I’m not much of an emotional eater (though I will eat because I’m bored, but because I’m aware of it, it doesn’t happen very often). The self-esteem issues I have with my weight (which are intricate, complex, and contradictory) are separate from anything that has to do with food. Food tastes good. Food gives me energy. Food nurishes my body. And that’s it. I am on good terms with my food.

Which is why when the guilt started creeping in, I put a quick stop to food math. I’m not going to have a bunch of numbers ruin my relationship with food for the sake of fitting into a smaller pair of pants (or turn me against algebra). Food is not math. Food is food and needs to be treated as such.

I’m still looking at the calories and serving sizes (Really? A 1/4 cup of syrup?) of what I eat, but in a very different way. It’s not just how many calories I’m consuming, but what kind of calories I’m consuming. You know what? Sometimes I want 250 calories from a sandwich. And sometimes I want those same calories from two cookies. Neither choice is wrong and I shouldn’t make myself feel like I failed a pop quiz because of it. Being conscious of the choice and the reasons why I’m making it is more important.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a cookie now and then. There’s nothing wrong with having one.

The numbers can still add up.

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