I hate counting calories! I have given calorie counting a valiant effort a couple of times in an effort to improve my diet but I always quit because of a few key reasons:
- It is a nuisance when you eat out. I would consider my wife and I “foodies” because we love to try new restaurants and foods. However, trying to figure out how many calories are in complex dishes is a major hassle and ruins the whole dining experience.
- It brought out my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I found myself not eating foods (even if I was hungry) if it wasn’t going to be easy to figure out how many calories I was going to consume.
- It was too time consuming to enter and analyze my daily calorie intake. The value I was getting wasn’t worth the time investment.
- All calorie counts are just estimates and can vary wildly from what you actually consume.
- It misses the importance of diet variability and making good choices. Outside of telling me my macro-nutrient (protein, fat, and carbs) intake, calorie counting doesn’t discern the difference between carbs from Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a bowl full of berries. As far as calorie counting is concerned, it is all the same.
The one aspect of calorie counting that I really do like is the mindfulness that is creates about what you eat. In an effort to increase my awareness of what I eat and ensure I’m eating a wide variety of healthy foods, I put together my own Diet Quality Scoring (DQS) system. Essentially, I give myself points for making good food choices and subtract points for the things that I’m trying to avoid/limit in my diet. Additionally, it also helps ensure that I’m eating a varied diet because points values decrease after a certain number of servings (except for vegetables). To get a higher DQS, I need to eat items in all the different categories.
My DQS is modeled after a similar system that was in Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight. However, I’m trying to eat a more ancestral/higher fat diet so I made my own modifications. My DQS scoring chart can be accessed at the link below:
I print a couple of these and keep them at my desk at work and in our kitchen at home. Whenever I eat I just circle the items in the appropriate categories. Serving size is very subjective but I just use my best judgement. At the end of the day I just tally my score which takes less than 5 minutes. My goal is to be above 35.
Every once in a while I will count calories. I think it is good to analyze your macro-nutrient intake now and then……but every time I do count calories it reminds me why I converted to my DQS system.