Freedom and Calorie Counting

- POSTED ON: Feb 09, 2018

My personal

ongoing choice is
to count calories because I find it far less difficult than trying to stick to a restrictive diet that tells me exactly when and/or what to eat. 

Part of my dieting hobby involves experimentation with various diets, ways-of-eating, lifestyles, including those eating methods which call themselves non-diets.

However, even when I experiment with other specific diet plans which don’t involve calorie counting, I continue to count and record my calories. 

For the past 10 (13+) years, I’ve used a computer food journal to track my calories, and I do that all day, every day, no matter what number the day’s total calories turns out to be. 

If any substance goes into my body, it goes into my computer food log.  Accuracy or lack of accuracy is always an issue when counting calories, but I do my ultimate best to weigh, measure, and record consistently and accurately, and I am willing to trust that my personal best efforts are good enough. 

After having successfully completed more than 3800 consecutive days of counting calories, I feel qualified to say that it is possible for a person to establish an enjoyable, ongoing calorie counting habit.

Some of the Benefits of Counting Calories are:

I have Freedom of Choice. 

 I am free to choose the food I eat. I know that good food exists and I feel comfortable seeking it out without guilt. I base my food choices on what I need and want, keeping moderation in mind, and the needs of my health as well.

I don't believe in depriving myself, but I take responsibility for my body, allowing it to enjoy the pleasure of taste, as well as proper nutrition. I know that there's no such thing as bad food unless of course it has spoiled, tastes bad, or doesn't otherwise live up to my expectations.

 I am Absolved From Allegiance to Others.

I am not beholden to a book, a piece of paper, or a meal delivery service. I am also not tied to a celebrity trainer, DVD, medical professional, or specific diet such as low-carb, high-protein, low-fat, or high-fat to reach or maintain a healthy weight. I no longer blame, nor do I need, others for my own personal food choices.

My loyalty is to my health and well-being, so I matter most when it comes to what I choose to eat. I seek out assistance, help, and support, to inform my decisions, but I have no guilt or shame for not following others’ advice …or even my own advice 100% of the time. 

  I am a Self-Governing Body. 

I have the power to change my eating habits if I desire to, and I take steps that feed my ability to regulate my food intake. I set up checks and balances in my life to ensure that my lifestyle is an environment that sustains my healthy eating habits. I consistently look for ways to improve on my own food choices and take the initiative in cultivating new ways to eat.  

I don’t accept what others say is healthy for me. I am thorough in making sure that what I eat, and how I eat, is up to my standards regardless of what menus, the news media, or others say. By choosing food according to my own caloric needs, taste preferences, and nutritional needs, I am a self-governing body. 

NOTE: Originally posted March 30, 2015.  Bumped up for new viewers.

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Existing Comments:

On Mar 30, 2015 jenericstewart wrote:

On Mar 31, 2015 LoveTahoe wrote:
After many years of following programs, plans, protocols, diet "guru" advice, and just plain flailing from one "diet" to another without lasting success, this makes more sense than anything else I've read. I'm curious about which computer programs you've used or currently use for food tracking and logging. Thanks again for such thoughtful and sensible perspectives.

On Mar 31, 2015 Dr. Collins wrote:
             LoveTahoe, Thanks. In September 2004, I began using "DietPower" which is an offline, Windows program. I now have ten years of complete food and weight records stored at my home on my old Windows operating system.. See more info about DietPower under RESOURCES, Books & Tools. There are also some articles about my use of DietPower in the ARCHIVES. However, about a year ago, I began using a free online program, My Fitness Pal - as my primary tracking program because I find it's function is similar to what i'm used to AND it works very well with iPhone and Apple which is now my primary operating system.

On Mar 31, 2015 LoveTahoe wrote:
That's very helpful, thanks. I hear great things about My Fitness Pal. The greatest success I had (lasted 4 years) was with WW logging points, so conscious food logging does work for me. I will check out MFP. I've used Fit Day very sporadically and find it user friendly as well. What I need more than anything is an attitude adjustment. The acknowledgement that at my age logging is mandatory and that it doesn't have to be a chore and can be looked on as the tool I need and even a game and that it can be enjoyable as well. Really appreciate your great work here.

On Mar 31, 2015 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thanks, LoveTahoe. Let me know how it goes for you.

On Jan 17, 2017 Carolyn wrote:
Bookmarked. It's freeing because of the flexibility. I don't have to feel like a failure because I fall off of this diet or that diet or can't stick to it. I can try something else, even from day to day. :) Tonight I created a Chicken Cobb Salad made from ingredients I had on hand that is 260 calories. I put the ingredients into My Fitness Pal and hope you and others will give it a try. 2 ounces cooked chicken breast (94); 1/2 ounce blue cheese crumbled (50); 2 cups romaine lettuce (15); 1 slice crisp cooked bacon, crumbled (40); one Roma tomato, chopped (13); one cooked egg white, chopped (17); 2 tablespoons low- or nonfat dressing (30) (I used Hidden Valley Nonfat Ranch and added in some dill, garlic powder, and black pepper to jazz up the flavor.) Total = 259

On Jan 17, 2017 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Carolyn, sounds good.

On Jan 19, 2017 Carolyn wrote:
I don't know where to put this question, but how do you make lasagna at home? Do you use lowfat cheese, or just use regular cheese and use less of it? I know you have to count all the ingredients in total and then divide, but I'm wondering if you have pointers for making it low calorie? :)

On Jan 19, 2017 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Carolyn, If I want a "diet" lasagna, then I buy it in a frozen individual package such as Lean Cuisine or WW etc. which is somewhere around 300 calories & usually I cut it in 2, and eat only at one meal. (Refreezing of a heated portion and then reheating it at some future time doesn't seem to do me any harm - or sometimes I just throw half away). I enjoy some foods that use diet ingredients, and the "Hungry Girl" cookbooks have lots of recipes that use those type of ingredients. However, Lasagna is one of the many foods that I make at home without substitutions using my normal favorite recipes with the same amounts of full fat cheese etc. BUT the first time I make it, I use the recipe function of my food journal to input ALL of the ingredients. This gives me a TOTAL calorie number for the exact recipe. THEN, I might start by dividing it into 8 servings -- but find it is way too high calorie. Then I might divide it into 12 servings or 16 servings -- which still might a small serving, but be still .. for example ...400 to 600 per serving which is way too high calorie for me. So, for example, if I note in my computerized recipe that it serves 12 at 600 calories per serving ... it means that my own personal serving must be only or ⅓ of 1 of those 1/12th servings. A TIP, I tend to always cook casserole type dishes in oblong pans because I can figure out even divisions by the amount of square I cut it in. Because I've been doing this for years, I am now used to having very small servings, and am not fooled or surprised when I go to restaurants & see that I am given a plated serving that is 1,500 to 2,500 calories. I know just about how big (or small) my own personal serving should be, and I immediately put the rest of it into a to-go box which I make certain my server brings to me BEFORE my meal arrives, leaving only a small amount of that plated portion on my plate, so that I won't mistakenly choose to eat more than my alloted amount. SO......... I guess I'm saying, there's always a choice between having MORE of something that doesn't taste as good, or LESS of something that I consider delicious. Frequently, the choice I make is to have less of something really good... ONE thing that helps in this, is that NO SERVING ... no matter how low calorie.... is ever a real big serving. SO....No HIGH VOLUME MEAL choices for me, no matter how low-calorie the meal is. Maybe a diet serving of a low calorie substitute lasagna would be about a 2 to 3 inch square... This would also be true of the size of a full fat lasagna... doing this regularly tends to limit the damage of even full-fat foods, like 150 calories for diet lasagna, but never more than 450 calories for the same size piece of "real" lasagna etc. Hope that is helpful. I've seen lots of recipes for lasagna that use tons of veggies, & diet cheeses etc to reduce calories, but my own choice is to choose a tiny piece of something I find really delicious or just go with part of an individual pre-made frozen diet packaged meal.

On Jan 20, 2017 Carolyn wrote:
That makes a lot of sense and all of this is starting to become so clear to me. I've struggled so much in the past thinking it was me because I couldn't stick to any one type of "diet" or follow this or that specific plan. All of which were based on cutting out this food group or that food group or some specific foods or whatever. I logged my food all week and kept strict records of my eating and I can't honestly say I'm very hungry anymore. I'm sure those feelings come and go but I'm in the initial phase of portion cutback and maybe my stretch receptors are starting to kick in. :) I had a 4 ounce baked potato with a teaspoon of butter for dinner, and it was so satisfying and really hit the spot. I didn't need to eat four huge plain potatoes without any added fat to feel satisfied (and then raid the refrigerator later prowling for more food) and I didn't need half a stick of butter to make my little potato taste good. I know that sounds so silly. I can't wait to make my regular lasagna recipe and input all the ingredients and cut it into pieces to freeze. LOL. :)

On Jan 20, 2019 Carolyn wrote:
I'm in your camp; calorie counting "frees" me to a great extent.

On Jan 20, 2019 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi Carolyn. The more I know about what works for ME, the better things go for me.

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