The Downside of Counting Calories #1: Feeling Deprived


We are living in a diet-mad world. A world were all types of food are available to us in just about unlimited quantities. This can leave us feeling so out of control with our eating that we are compelled to actively restrict our energy intake. We’re counting calories and we’re making up all sorts of food rules about what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for us. Many health and wellbeing professionals even actively encourage us to restrict our calories down to 1200-1500 (sometimes even less!) per day if we are to have any hope of achieving our goals.

Quick fix solutions such as low calorie shake diets are offered as a great, simple way to drop the weight. You go on one of these shake diets or you start planning your meals for the day based purely on the number of calories in them. You painstakingly record every morsel of food that passes your lips. Weigh in day rolls around and you’re super excited. You lose a couple of kilos often in that first week. Yay! It must be working!

What happens, though, when we restrict our calories like this, is that before long we start to feel hungry and low in energy – like, all the time. We are eating only the foods that fit within our calories, not necessarily what we truly feel like and think would satisfy us. Sometimes we can ride it out for a number of weeks but we begin to fixate on the things we can’t have – they don’t fit into the guidelines of the diet weren’t meant to be following or the number of calories we have arbitrarily allocated for the day. We feel deprived. We feel like we’re missing out.

Counting Calories - Feeling Deprived

What happens when we start to feel deprived of all the things we enjoy and believe would satisfy us? Eventually we give in and eat some. Often a lot. We might go on a binge. We then start to think we’ve messed it up and we give up on counting calories. We end up right back where we were AND we feel as though we’ve failed. You don’t follow the rules at all for a while. I mean, what’s the point anyway? You probably gain some weight. You decide you better start counting calories again or get some more shakes. This time will be different.

As you can see, it can quickly become quite a vicious cycle with your self esteem and self worth taking a battering each time. It’s just not very sustainable over a period of time and certainly something to take into consideration if you are considering restricting calories.