Infographic: Why you should not count calories

Infographic: Why you should not count calories

To count calories, or not to count calories. That was not a question during my youthful dancing days. Of course you count calories!!!

As a dancer who often struggled with weight issues, I definitely had my period of nazi-like dedication to counting calories. What did I gain from my diligence to write down, calculate, and count every single calorie? Oh… a lot. I gained stress. (Writing down everything you eat is annoying.) I gained guilt. (Did I really just eat another piece of cake?!). I gained an neurotic obsession with that number of my scale. (Maybe it will go down if I take my socks off…) Oh yeah, and I gained weight.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to relax a little. And eat a lot more butter. And give up the cracker addiction. And to never watch the movie Twilight.

But I can’t.

All I can do is help others from making the same mistakes. Hopefully, I can help some other young dancer from reliving my good-intentioned-but-not-so-healthy approach to healthy living. If I can reach even one person I will feel good about my hard learned lesson.

So… with that in mind. An open letter to anyone who will read it:

Dear young dancers, relapsed weight watcher-ers, frustrated dieters, and anyone else who still believe counting calories is a key to being healthy. The following is for you.

Why you should NOT count calories.

via the humble infograph:

Why you should not count calories infographic


Please share this if you think we all could use a better approach to our relationship with food and health!


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Camille Spence

    Boom!! Exactly why I broke up with MyFitnessPal. I started it with my bro and sis in law, and became so stressed out if I was ever over, even by as little as 25-50 calories. Plus, there isn’t an accurate way to track the NUTRIENTS you are eating, so yeah, I can eat like crap, work out a ton, and be under for calories, but in the end…I still feel like crap because my body is still starving for what it needs. Plus I didn’t want my little girl to grow up watching me freak out about food and calories and the scale going up or down. I just want to teach her moderation, and seeking nutrient dense real food, rather than focusing on numbers. And how can I possibly teach her that without me living it.

    1. Post author

      Yay! Isn’t it amazing how quickly you can go from normal person to obsessed calorie counter? I totally agree with you, I want nothing more than being able to teach my daughter how to have a healthy relationship with food and her body. And it always begins by example. :)

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    1. robin

      True. I also find the same thing when I eat food with quality fat. I don’t need to eat a ton, but it’s feeling and my body needs it. It’s all about quality of food, for sure. 😉

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  5. Jen

    This is EXCELLENT. I wish I could go back and tell my younger-self the same thing. I would have enjoyed eating A LOT more instead of is being so stressful. I also probably wouldn’t have screwed up my hormones so bad. Politically correct nutrition really is damaging. I hoe I have the privilege of having children one day so I can teach them proper ways of dealing with food. :)

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Jen! I totally agree. Politically correct nutrition only did my body harm. I am so thankful that I learned about real food and REAL nutrition before I got pregnant. While far from perfect, I really am glad that I can help my little girl have a healthier relationship with food. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  6. Koreen

    Seriously good to read this and see someone spread this around. I can’t believe I’ve argued with doctors over this! I stopped counting calories and started counting nutrients, which led me to stop over-eating. When you eat whole, unprocessed foods, it’s almost impossible to over-eat! The fact that in spite of eating all I want (and many many times feeling like I ate too much — literally stuffed myself) I dropped 3 sizes, stabilized my weight and am healthy with so much energy. People have been so ingrained with the traditional lies that they can’t see the truth sitting right in front of them. Thank you for such a simple summary of a critical truth.

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Koreen! I love hearing how eating real food (and not worrying about calories) has helped you. Yay!

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  8. Helen

    Thank you for the information — I knew something didn’t quite feel right with me tracking *everything* even as a diabetic who’s determined to get as much control through diet, exercise, and stress control (my biggest problem right now) and ditch my medications if I can. I agree that a lot of politically correct nutrition and the nutritional advice I get from my doctors has actually backfired horrible with me. I’ve started eating mostly whole foods, including throwing out the margarine and getting pastured butter and ditching 75% of my refined carbs (still working on it, travel and trying to avoid fights with loved ones has made it a little more interesting but I’m slowly getting there) has helped a lot. Now to see what happens when I don’t obsess over my calorie intake in terms of improving my health, body composition, and sanity.

    Just out of curiosity, anyone out there have any experience with this type of eating system (significantly reduced carbs)and putting on muscle mass and strength? Any words of wisdom? I like to see what other insights and ideas there are away from the muscle sites although a lot of the advice there has helped me out too… never hurts to ask =)

    1. Post author

      Hi Helen,

      My sister is also diabetic (type 1) and I know how easy it can be to get obsessive… and it’s hard because to a degree you really do need to keep track. Hopefully you will find what works for you.

      As far as the low carb thing… I personally have never done low carb, and I would caution against any diet that significantly reduces one of the three macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats). There are only three for a reason and your body needs all of them. With that said, I do know a lot of people who have had success avoiding certain or all grains. For some people with digestive issues this can be a huge benefit to their health. Although it is very important to make sure you still get enough carbs by eating lots of veggies and fruits. I have many paleo and GAPS friends who swear by going grain free. Although sometimes it promotes going too low carb which can have some long term effects on your thyroid and other health issues. You may want to check out as she has lots of great resources for implementing a low grain diet in a healthy way.

      I personally think properly prepared grains can be really beneficial, but every body is so different and many do have digestion issues that make grains hard to digest. It’s important to pay attention to your body and don’t be afraid to change when it feels right. What might be best for your body now may not be in the future. Don’t get sold on any one diet “dogma” at the expense of your health. :)

      Hope that helps! Good luck!

  9. Kelli Pruiett

    I love this article!!! I especially love the diagrams!! For us visual people this is a great interpretation of the information.

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  11. Jessica

    Love this post! I haven’t counted calories in years…ever since I learned about eating real, wholesome foods. Fat is not the enemy! Since then I’ve developed a love for cooking fresh, wholesome foods with lots of good fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, EVOO, lard, etc). Love the infographic too! Pinning it!

  12. Louise

    Having counted calories many times before in my life, I completely agree that it only leads to stress and doesn’t deal with the real causes for why one might be overweight. It’s a great infographic!

  13. Liosha

    I absolutely love this post. I am former Weight Watcher… Former My Fitness Paller, everything and more… until I read Dr. Rita Hancock’s “The Eden Diet” She advocates going back to listening to hunger pangs and stopping when you are done. Although she also advocates it’s OK to eat fast food but only eat half, but strictly disagrees with the “diet food industry”

    Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been listening and have been enjoying eating whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods. Although I still find myself in bondage to how many calories etc.. (I am over 190lbs 5ft 4, so obesed is what they have classified me as) So instead of measuring myself by the dreaded scale, I am doing a fitness challenge and I’m going back to the basics of jumping jacks, knee hi’s, jogging in place, pushups, all the things I dreaded during elementary school PE.

  14. Joules

    I counted calories and ended up being deficient in protein. I had to give up the gym, which I loved, since I was so weak and lethargic walking to the bathroom made me ready for a nap. The “best” part was when I skipped my period.

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