As I feared, calorie counting has become somewhat addictive. I said I would only do it for two weeks, but that was three weeks ago and I’m still logging into Spark People every day from breakfast to dinner. Like basically everything in life, there are good and bad things about this.
Good: Heightened awareness of what I’m eating
There have been several times in the past month when I’ve muttered “Holy crap,” after calculating the nutritional values of some recipes I make. I didn’t realize the tuna melt casserole had so many calories or else I would have backed off on that third piece. It’s similar to the time I moved out on my own and started to realize how expensive it is just to exist. Cable, telephone, groceries, light bulbs – they all cost money and I didn’t realize how much until I had to pay for them all myself. Tracking my food is like going over all my bills and discovering hidden fees.
I’ve also accepted that whatever I enter is basically an estimate, since it’s impossible to figure out exactly how many calories you eat in a day. Was that tablespoon of peanut butter exactly a tablespoon or was there an air pocket in there somewhere?
Bad: Don’t want to become chained to my nutritional calculator
While it’s good to know what I’m putting in my body, I don’t want to become completely obsessed with it. I’d hate to get to a point where I go on vacation and start freaking out in the car because I cannot immediately log the bag of carrot sticks I ate out of the cooler. I also don’t want to enter a state of mind where I can’t give up food tracking.
Back in middle school, I started collecting the metal tops off of canned sodas. I’d open my soda, then bend the opener back and forth a couple times until it broke off. Then I’d put it them in my pocket until I could deposit them in an empty milk jug, if my mother didn’t find them in her washing machine first. I ended up with at least two or three jugs full of pop tops, though what I was collecting them for I have no idea. There was a rumor that you could exchange them for money for cancer research or something, but mine just sat in my room. Eventually I realized I needed to stop collecting pop tops, but every time I opened a soda I’d start working the top back and forth to break it off. It took me several weeks to stop myself from collecting these funky pieces of metal, and the urge to do so lasted for at least another month or two. I don’t want the same thing to happen with food tracking. I’d like to be able to just drop it if I decide I’m getting too psycho about it.
Good: It seems to be helping.
My weight is heading downwards again.
So, I guess I’ll stick with it for now, but I may drop it eventually if it becomes too much of a nuisance or I decide I have higher priorities than tracking every teaspoon of olive oil I roast vegetables in.