Is counting calories disordered eating? Shouldn’t we be able to not overeat?

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Replies

  • katsheare
    katsheare Posts: 1,025 Member
    moogie_fit wrote: »
    I wish I could just eat like a “normal” person and not count calories.
    I feel this all the time. I have had eds in the past. Now I'm just thinking more harm reduction, it's ok to live with disordered eating, isn't it? People are allowed to do many other things with their life. Why do we face stigma?

    We live as we live, but must also live with the repercussions of that life. Disordered eating can (in more extreme cases) result in loss of things like overall health, hair and life. So is it okay?

    Okay doesn't seem like the right measure. It is, ultimately, not healthy or safe. Should you or anyone dealing with an eating disorder face stigma? This is personal opinion territory, but I come down on a hard 'no' with that. Just as I feel my learning disabled child should not face stigma.

    But that same child is my 'normal'. So, OP, you are eating like a normal person. You may even be eating like a typical person. It's really a question, as others have said, of eating as an informed person.

    There is a lot of R&D and advertising money that goes into getting us in the West to eat. From a lot of quarters. Which means there is a huge opportunity to be taking in more than we're expending. There are massive forces that benefit from you eating more than you need. You're just not one of them.
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,592 Member
    Counting calories in and of itself is not disordered. If you take medications you count out the pills/milligrams you consume and aren't a drug addict, right? Money must also be counted and budgeted but we aren't all Scrooge McDuck. Yeah okay it's not fun but consider the alternative.
  • amyepdx
    amyepdx Posts: 750 Member
    Re: “normal”
    I think there are people for whom the connection between comfort and food luckily never kicked in or at least not as severely. I was thin thru high school and into college but after my first romantic catastrophe, I turned to food. Then once I began to gain weight, I started “dieting” but always going back to food during bad times reinforcing the connection

    So I ended up yo-yo dieting for 40 years - each loss followed by an even larger gain.

    Counting calories starting in 2015 at my heaviest of 267 allowed me to lose 98 lbs. But guess what, trading the positive feeling of being in control of my eating for using food for comfort again led to a 35 lb gain. I am back in control but I don’t know if I can ever truly break that connection.

  • amusedmonkey
    amusedmonkey Posts: 10,331 Member
    edited February 2020
    I have shared on this forum before about my father who is now 80 and has always been slim despite never dieting, or intentionally doing anything about his weight.

    But he does not have a sweet tooth, does not have sugary drinks, has one square of chocolate as an occasional treat (1 square!! :s ) eats small meals because that all he wants, rarely watches TV, does not have a computer or a smart phone, has a car but also walks places or catches bus places (which means walking to and from bus stop) still plays sport (bowls which although not super physical does involve fair bit of walking/moving) has active hobbies like gardening and DIY home projects and dog obedience club.

    Given most people do not have similar lifestyle of all those factors which contribute to 'natural' weight control , we need to be mindful of changing things so we do control our weight

    Be that calorie counting, deliberate increasing of excercise, cutting back known high calorie items like cake, soft drinks, planning smaller portions, making our own personal rules ('I only eat cake if Ive done my quota of jogging')

    Unlike my father, for most people it wont just happen - we have to make it happen.

    Out of curiosity, have you considered asking your father if he does any of these things out of awareness or if it's just how he is? My stepdad isn't exactly thin, but he's been weight stable give or take a few for as long as I can remember (30+ years), which is unusual for most people. He doesn't seem to care about controlling his food intake and he appears to eat whatever he wants whenever he wants.

    Yesterday for the first time I discovered he does control his food intake in some way. We're invited to a relative's house today and there will be a lot of food. Yesterday he asked to use my scale because his isn't working. Mom was teasing him about it, and he replied: "I want to see how much I weigh to know how much to eat tomorrow". It looks like he avoids weight ratcheting up by being aware of his weight before large feasts.

    I thought it was a brilliant way to avoid gradual gain if your daily eating habits support the weight you want to be and the gain comes gradually caused by occasionally large meals. I've been managing my weight for 7 years and I'm still learning new things. Brilliant.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,702 Member
    Certain my father doesn't do anything like adjust his intake in relation to how much he weighs: he does not own a set of scales.
    I think he is just a person who enjoys active hobbies so has a naturally high NEAT without deliberate excercise.
    Gardening is not a gym workout but he has a large garden and it is picture perfect, an hour worth of gardening, weeding a day and then some time on sanding and varnishing a woodwork project vs watching a movie and then browsing through Facebook.
    If you don't watch much tv and you don't have a computer or a smartphone, you spend far less passive time.
    And if you don't like sweet things and eat mainly fruit, veg, grains, meat ( eats very little dairy because lactose intolerant) your intake matches your output without conscious effort to do so.
  • snowflake954
    snowflake954 Posts: 7,513 Member
    I love counting calories because it's simple, fast and it works--been doing it for 7 years.

    As for people who stay thin without effort, I've got a husband who has always been thin. Unlike some of your stories he eats a lot of deserts, chocolate, nuts, gelato, cheese, pizza, and pasta. I have to be careful and control my weight, but he eats what he wants. However, he eats small portions of his regular meals and is always trying to give someone half of his portion. When we go out for pizza he pushes me to eat half. And he is an Italian charmer. How can I eat my pizza or pasta and half of his? I used to fight every Friday and Saturday night in the restaurant or pizzaria. I felt so mean. This went on for years. I finally got smart. I order a salad, eat a third of his pizza and we share a desert. He has been a pescatarian from childhood. At home his portions of regular food are small but then he pulls out deserts after every meal. He is retired now and goes to the fitness center everyday (I wish I could too, but I'm too busy, I go 4 times a week). He loves to walk. Every weekend we're all over Rome (7 hills-yeah!).
  • rodnichols69
    rodnichols69 Posts: 83 Member
    The person repairing an airplane better count the number of screws they took out then put back in.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,700 Member
    Kalex1975 wrote: »
    Congratulations on the weight loss, that’s awesome! The question is though, could you have lost that 250lbs without calorie counting?
    PAV8888 wrote: »
    I think he answered your question to the extent that anyone can know given that he didn't lose the lbs some other way! I would have asked whether he could have lost the same amount of weight with a smaller deficit, and whether that would have been less triggering for him; but, the same answer applies: we will never know :smiley:

    @PAV8888 is right, I honestly don't know. All my previous attempts at losing weight failed. I think there were 2 things that played the biggest role in my success this time. My OCD and the heart failure I suffered in 2015.

    My therapist thinks I developed OCD because of my mom's long, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle with cancer. The loss of control I was feeling during that period made me start to control things I had power over. It also didn't help that my dad was keeping the family mostly in the dark nearer her death because he "didn't want to bother us" (I've been told this is common among German families). Her death was somewhat of a surprise even though we knew her issues with cancer had been going on for 15+ years. The not knowing also fed into my OCD. It was her battle with cancer that coincided with my weight gain. I was using food for comfort since my family has never been good with sharing our feelings (so these days I overshare as you can probably tell :smile:).

    The OCD wasn't helping with my other weight loss attempts though. It was my 10-day stay in the hospital in 2015 because of congestive heart failure that was my rock bottom and wake-up call. After realizing I was on a path to an early grave I finally turned all my energy to losing the weight. Ironically, my OCD is probably what made me successful.

    To PAV's question: yes, I think I could have lost the same amount of weight with a smaller deficit. I actually wish I did so. I suffered many of the symptoms of under-eating: fatigue; constantly feeling cold; constipation (lead to hemorrhoids); hair loss; and no sex drive. I also have a lot of loose skin. I'm not sure if a slower loss would have prevented that, but regardless, it sucks to not feel comfortable with my body even though I am in the best shape of my life (currently working on my body image issue with the therapist!).

    edit: fixed quotes

    My mom's mother died unexpectedly (to my mother) when mom was 13. She had been kept in the dark too. It was very traumatizing to her.

    Now that you've mentioned your developing OCD as a response, I can't help but wonder if this experience led my mother to be super controlling of my brother (who is mentally ill and admittedly benefits from some guidance, but mom can be extreme at times.)
  • janstewart62
    janstewart62 Posts: 88 Member
    I would love to be is considered "normal" !
  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    Breaking my 10 day no post celibacy... I think humans do have a natural ability to control calories. Now, I think it is stronger in some people. Genetics might play a role. Our genetics have not changed that much in the last 100 years. What has changed? The food environment. People now consume more energy dense/hyper palatable foods. These foods I think overload this satiety center. Now, one can gain weight eating any kind of foods. Though, I think certain properties of certain foods help trigger satiety quicker and longer. When most people binge, it's not on plain fruits, vegetables, leaner meats, it's usually very energy dense foods like ice cream. By lowering the energy density of one's diet, they may be able to eat more "normally" without counting calories. If you want to eat like a "normal" person, you will most likely gain weight. It's the norm not the exception it used to be. There have been studies on the diets of more traditional hunter and gatherer cultures. They seem to have a total caloric density of 1-1.2. If we look at the Kevin Hall less processed vs more processed diet study. We see the average calorie density of the "eaten" food of the less processed group was 1.08 vs 1.31 of the more processed. Correlation? Yes. Possible inside into the satiety center of the human brain... Maybe..
  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    edited February 2020
    ceiswyn wrote: »
    psychod787 wrote: »
    Breaking my 10 day no post celibacy... I think humans do have a natural ability to control calories. Now, I think it is stronger in some people. Genetics might play a role. Our genetics have not changed that much in the last 100 years. What has changed? The food environment. People now consume more energy dense/hyper palatable foods. These foods I think overload this satiety center. Now, one can gain weight eating any kind of foods. Though, I think certain properties of certain foods help trigger satiety quicker and longer. When most people binge, it's not on plain fruits, vegetables, leaner meats, it's usually very energy dense foods like ice cream. By lowering the energy density of one's diet, they may be able to eat more "normally" without counting calories. If you want to eat like a "normal" person, you will most likely gain weight. It's the norm not the exception it used to be. There have been studies on the diets of more traditional hunter and gatherer cultures. They seem to have a total caloric density of 1-1.2. If we look at the Kevin Hall less processed vs more processed diet study. We see the average calorie density of the "eaten" food of the less processed group was 1.08 vs 1.31 of the more processed. Correlation? Yes. Possible inside into the satiety center of the human brain... Maybe..

    ...so let me tell you about the time I binged on satsumas. Oh, and the time I binged on carrots. And apples. And pineapple (and OW my poor mouth and stomach hurt after that one).

    Oh I did on peaches once.... but as a caveat i was sub 9% bf coming from over 50%... so... I probably would have binged on dirt. 😉 I will REPHRASE my statement. People in general are LESS likely to binge on them. The fact that your belly was yelling at you says something to the potential satiation ability of them.

    **edit** The calorie density of carrots is 200 cals a pound or so. Fruit roughly 300 cals a pound. Ben and Jerry's is roughly 1200 calories a pound. How much would have you eaten of the ben and Jerry's vs apples?