Therapist Blog

Why You Need to Stop Counting Calories Now

Let me first start off by saying Counting Calories is engagement in diet culture and the opposite of you listening to you body and engaging in intuitive eating. Diet culture preaches that you’re not good enough or fit enough unless you can get those Instagram likes for your toned, tight, “bikini body” (also wtf is a bikini body, isn’t any body in a bikini a “bikini body”, anyways…) its unrealistic, healthy and promotes an unhealthy relationship with food, your body, with social events that involve either of the two, and so on. Plus the industry will have you believing you need to buy some fitness book, or diet plan in order to achieve that instagram worthy body. This is a $30 billion industry (Health and Fitness) in the U.S, and it. has been growing by at least 3 - 4% annually for the last ten years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Its time to disengage from it, and stopping counting calories is one of the steps to disengage.

So why is it so important:

  1. So many of the diet foods (foods advertised as low calorie foods) contain all sorts of chemicals produced in a lab somewhere that can potentially prove to be poisonous for the body and absolutely ruin the adrenals, cortisol levels, skin, hormone balance and nutrient absorption.

  2. It takes the enjoyment out of food, you begin to see everything you eat some a scale of calories, and nutrient density and stop seeing it for what it is, fuel for your body.

  3. The potential to become “addicted” to counting calories is ever so powerful as food and your body begin to be seen as “good” or “bad”

  4. A calorie is NOT a calorie (contrary to the popular “a calorie is a calorie” belief). Our bodies process and metabolize fat, protein, and carbs VERY differently, and even different kinds of fats (saturated vs unsaturated) and carbs (simple vs complex) are metabolized in diverse ways. Making counting them pointless.

  5. Stop looking at the nutritional panel altogether. It’s not as important as the ingredients, as what’s actually in the food you’re eating, you want to at real food don’t you?

  6. By restricting calories (counting them insistently, generally leads to this), we are telling our bodies food is not available, which then slows our metabolism WAY down.

  7. Finally your health is not based on just your calorie intake for the day. Your stress levels, exercise, water intake, sleep, eating nutrient rich foods, avoiding toxins, all contribute to your health. Calorie counting is not the answer!

Intro to Nutritional Psychology

According to an article written on the Harvard Health blog studies have shown that when individuals take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics. This is just one factor to your gut health nor your anxiety/stress management. “Clean eating”, eating whole foods that are typically found in the outer corners of the grocery story have shown that there is a lowered risk of depression than eating processed foods, what would normally be found in the center of a typical grocery store.

Siting the same Harvard Health blog scientists account for these difference explained above due to the tendency of “clean eating” diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples what I think the America culture has adapted to.

So having a healthful diet and getting all the vitamins and minerals that are recommend is clearly beneficial as well as avoiding foods that are potentially damaging to the gut and then in turn peoples mental health. The less inflamed the gastrointestinal track is, the more emotional regulation will be achievable.

My hope is to continue this series hopefully it will be fruitful.

Breaking Down Walls, Why It's So Hard...

Having the willingness and ability to have other people help you, or let them in and aware of your emotions or simply engaging in a conversation about different ideas can be difficult and full of emotional hurdles to overcome. Being truly connected to another person means letting them see where you bend, crack, fold, and also where you shine, spring up and create. I often witness people shying away from being their true self for the fear of burdening another person or being selfish or pride to name a few. It seems like being an individual and fiercely independent is something of a badge of honor to wear, yet it keeps us lonely, disconnected and empty. We then take to developing relationships with potentially unhealthy coping, by keeping secrets, over indulging, becoming inflexible to our own thoughts rather allowing other opinions in. When people do this a wall is created that separates ourselves from everyone, creating a sense of isolation and then an unwillingness to ask for help and possibly even to give it.

I remember when I was a little girl I learned a lesson that “if you don’t stick up for yourself no one else will”, which I think has the potential to lead people to advocate for themselves but another underlying message there is “don’t trust”, “don’t let other people see your weakness”, and/or “you must always fight”.

What happens when you get tired of fighting? What happens when you actually don’t want to be alone, isolated, or unwilling to ask for support. Perhaps the lesson that we all need to hear is “if you don’t stick up for yourself no one else will AND you can always ask for help”.

SO, lean on others and set healthy boundaries. Having one way or another only creates disfunction within ourselves, our relationships, our community at large. It all starts with saying “hey I want to share something” or “hey can I have some help”. If you start small, its really not that scary, and some of that stubbornness will lessen overtime and you’ll be grateful when it does.

Returning to Self (A "How To" Guide)

It’s been awhile since there has been a new blog update, so I figured the perfect topic would be how to “return to self” or in other words, after you loosing yourself in the minutia of life how do you still return to what you love, are compassionate about, to yourself. Tons of things can distract us from being who we want to be, peers, family expectations/responsibilities, school/work, other things that we busy ourselves with. We can recognize when we have gotten off track when we notice feeling exhausted often, lonely, sad, discontent with life and where it’s taking us. We may start engaging in dysfunctional behaviors like playing video games to excess, over using substances, eating too much or too little, over working etc.

Here are things that you can do to recenter yourself, and connect with who you are:

  • Spending a few minutes near a river, stream, or creek or simply outside to enjoy nature

  • Lying on the ground and taking in the fresh air

  • Being with a loved one without distractions

  • Sitting on the porch while reading, or knitting something, or with a nice drink

  • Walking or driving for an hour, any direction without a destination

  • Play air (or real) guitar or drums while listening to music

  • Greeting sunrise

  • Driving out to where the city lights do not interfere with the night sky

  • Praying or meditation

  • Sitting on a bridge with legs dangling over

  • Sitting by a window in a cafe and writing

  • Sitting in a circle of trees

  • Potting plants, being sure to get hands very muddy

  • Beholding beauty, grace, gratitude of things in life

All of these examples and more can help you slow down and refill your energy, with little effort. Making this a routine creates a cycle in which you can return home to myself every morning and every evening. Perhaps doing something on a schedule will bare the most fruits of true connection with self. The great thing is that after you do these practices, you can return to the world with renewed energy to go about your daily life. By taking time for yourself, the quality of your work in the rest of your life can improve.

Assessing Whether Your Teen/Child Needs Help

As parents there are a ton of things to consider/worry about. If you think your child may be in a position that they can benefit from therapy, here are some questions to ask yourself to help clarify.

  • What is your child telling you through their behaviors?

  • What physical symptoms has your child been experiencing?

  • What are you worried about for your child?

  • Are you as the parent experiencing anything that could be indirectly affecting your children?

Remember your children don’t have the same language adults have when it comes to explaining whats going on with them, ask them about their feelings. Again, emotional and mental issues often show up somatically, through physical pain, nausea, dizziness, sleep changes.

Your children are sponges, yes you may not be verbally sharing your stresses with them, yet your children are quite perspectives to their environment and the people in it.

Respond with Acceptance

Move Away from Blame

Blaming yourself, your child or others will most likely lead to anger and resentment

Start the Conversation

In a calm and clear way communicate your concern

Reach out for Support

Assemble a support system for yourself and your teen, whether that’s family, friends and/or a treatment team.