Quit counting calories

Why you shouldn't count calories

Good news! There is no need to count calories unless you are under special supervision and it is recommended that you do so. Eating right and regular physical activity will help you to maintain or lose weight. It can even help you gain weight if that is your desire. 

Eating a balanced diet and including all foods in moderation are two keys to a successful healthy eating lifestyle. Focusing on numbers is unnecessary hard work that will eventually inhibit healthy eating habits.

Knowing how much food you should eat

There are many factors that go into how much food an individual needs. The best indicator of how much to eat is learning to recognize your hunger and fullness cues. The more physically active you are, the more food you will need to keep your body fueled, which should be reflected by an increase in appetite.

If you are sedentary, most likely you don't need as much food for fuel and will become satisfied with less food than a more active person. Eating a balance of healthy and filling foods is also key to identifying hunger and fullness.

The MyPlate guidelines are a good place to start to establish a balanced diet.

How to avoid overeating

Sometimes people will eat due to emotional reasons such as boredom, loneliness, exhaustion, sadness, or procrastination. Other times people eat to celebrate or socialize. If you find you engage in frequent emotion-related eating, try to be active.

If you feel like you are hungry an hour or two after a substantial meal, find activities to get your mind off food or try to move to a place where food is not accessible.

University of Iowa students can schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health and Wellness online through their MyChart account or by calling 1-319-335-8394.
Last reviewed: 
August 2017

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