How I Protect My Mental Health While Tracking Calories
5 simple tips that can drastically improve your calorie-tracking experience
Most health and fitness goals go something like this:
Want to lose weight? Eat fewer calories than you burn.
Want to bulk up? Eat more.
Want a body recomposition? Eat in a small calorie deficit with ample protein and a heavy dose of resistance training.
In other words, your daily intake of calories is tied to the result, which is why most people hoping to transform their bodies use a calorie-tracking app at some point or another.
After all, how else can you be sure you’re in a deficit, maintenance, or surplus? How else can you know you’re eating enough protein?
The problem, though, is that tracking calories can quickly become detrimental.
It can harm our mental health in many ways, from fatigue and frustration to obsession and fear of food, the worst consequences. A 2018 study showed that many MyFitnessPal users display eating disorder behaviors or believe that tracking calories can lead to an ED.
This is why I must urge everyone to read this important note: If you’ve had an eating disorder or are currently suffering from one, please skip this article and seek professional help.
Calorie tracking is just one tool in the health and fitness world, and just like any other tool, it can be beneficial to some while harmful to others.
With that out of the way, here’s my story with MyFitnessPal and five tips that have helped me protect my mental health while tracking calories.
MyFitnessPal and Me: a Hate-Love Relationship
I first downloaded MyFitnessPal in 2013. I wanted to lose the pounds I’d gained since getting into university.
One week in, though, I quit. It was too time-consuming, especially as I was also working part-time.
After graduation, I moved to Spain (where I currently live), and this newfound independence from my family meant I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.