Last night I got an email from my dietician with my “calorie budget” for the period I am to be tracking my meals and food consumed. I cannot say I was happy about it, and I will freely admit to have a text tantrum on multiple phones as well as a whine-fest with M about it.
I know, I know … first world problems, right? But it upsets my apple cart because I had told him in vivid detail how I do not count calories, weigh or measure food, or even really want to do the whole meal consumption list. Perhaps he thought I was joking about how wigged I would be over this idea; after all, people probably make up stuff to tell him every day of the week. However, I am really not most people; I am likely loonier about this sort of thing than the average bear. My instinct is to follow the advice provided when I am consulting experts for help, but I also know my limitations and obsessive/compulsive behaviors about stuff like that. I agreed to food tracking for 5 days so we would have something to discuss, and I will stick to that agreement in all it potentially ugly glory. So why the calorie budget now? To set me up for failure?
As of last night I was having a foot-stomping, dig-my-heels-in declarative incident that I’m not doing it, I am not going to concern myself with his calorie budget during this period. He gets a food list, that’s it. We can talk portion control or eating more of this and less of that after we review it at our next meeting. I am going to forget he ever sent me that email.
But what am I doing today? I am looking at labels and weighing food and doing the math on a simple lunch I probably eat some variation of just about every day.
The verdict? The estimate is this is 636 calories, and that includes weighing the turkey slices so I have a ballpark estimate of portions if/when the RD asks. I am not sure if I am crushed as if I am massively overeating already or just accepting this is a decent, typical lunch for me and that’s how much it costs in terms of calories. Of course, breakfast this morning was a scoop of protein shake mixed with a cup of coffee before the gym, so that was only 200 calories for a grand total today of 836. But then we are eating with friends tonight, and I will be (unfortunately) thinking about this crap the entire time I am reading the menu.
Do you see where this is going? If I allow myself to be quick like a bunny and dive down the rabbit hole of food measurement and calorie counting, I am so screwed and will be a stark raving basket case by the end of the week. And that’s just looking at calories, not a word about the underlying nutritional details as relates to protein, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, etc., etc., etc.
I am right to not do this to myself, except now I am not sure how to resist the compulsion to look at every label and think about every bite of food that crosses my lips. The voices of reason in my life suggest that my blood sugar numbers are good, I am not doing anything crazy (no super fad diets, no binging on cookies late at night), and just doing the 5 days of food list is adequate and to forget about the calorie budget.
So much easier said than done.
When I have experimented with food tracking applications like my fitness pal, there were also these trade-offs for the exercise completed each day. I do periodically have it flitter through my mind that if I eat this cookie it’s going to mean an additional number of squats or lunges or whatever else might be vexing me in the moment. But I am never thinking “I’m here doing this so I can eat regular meals and then some today.” My mind does not work that way, at least not anymore. If it did, believe me I would be consuming a lot more crap food and justifying it with the amount of time I spend at the gym.
The food tracking apps have a negative effect on my perspective with food, as evidenced right now by my level of discontent with the lunch I eat some variation of 5 days out of 7. Maybe I need to print out this post and email it to the RD so he understands I wasn’t kidding when I said I am neurotic about this food tracking and calorie counting stuff.
I do not officially start the food tracking until Monday, so I have the weekend to get all my angst and drama about it bled out of my system. Hopefully my feared level of cranky will simply be another projection of my anxiety about being judged harshly. If only I were not so honest with my reporting. If only I could write the good choices and lie about the less great things I eat.
Sometimes being a consistent rule follower is more harmful than good. I’ll get through it, but even less delightedly than before that email.