If you’ve been feeling like you want to make a change from tracking-rigidity to food-peace, I’m hoping this post can help get you started.
Why You Loved Macro-Counting:
1. the achieved physical results you wanted
2. The flexibility to eat foods that ‘weren’t allowed’ on previous diets you’ve done
3. Gained a lot of knowledge about nutrition and metabolism
4. Became familiar with portion sizes and what your body needed
5. Gave you a concrete rule to follow that your Type A personality loved ; )
However, you might be thinking – ‘do I have to do this forever?” At what point have you learned all you can learn from Macro Counting and when is it appropriate to transition to a more intuitive way of eating?
Reasons why You’re Considering Intuitive eating:
1. Entering everything in My Fitness Pal has become annoying
2. Weighing and measuring is impossible while traveling and eating socially
3. Sometimes felt like you were forcing yourself to eat when you weren’t hungry or going hungry at night because you were ‘out of macros’
4. Stopped seeing food as fuel and nourishment and only saw it as numbers
5. Realizing that this wasn’t a life-long, sustainable way of eating
6. You’re not trying to perform at CF, lose fat for summer, or any other goal that requires micromanaging calories and macros.
Does this sound a lot like you? If so, you may want to consider loosening the grip on the reins and shift your focus to food quality rather than food quantity.
But before you do so, you likely have some fear around ‘giving up control’ of your nutrition. If this sounds like you, consider these mindset shifts.
- Tracking Macros is a Choice and Not a requirement. Realizing that you don’t have to micromanage your metabolism by counting every morsel of food is a critical first step. Tracking and micromanaging for many has lead to the very chaos and dysfunction with food that they’re afraid of right now. Bodies don’t require an exact math equation to function and, in fact, function best mentally, physically and emotionally with more flexibility and intuition.
- Expect Change. I see a great number of people suffer when they expect impermanent things to stay constant. For example, things like diets, fitness, and body composition are all going to change throughout the seasons, months, and even across the day. To expect anything to stay constant is the first mistake here. Our bodies are meant to change and our minds are meant to learn and grow. Don’t be scared of the dynamic nature of your body and mind – once you realize the beauty in it, there’s peace on the otherside.
- Practice Trust. We likely used macro counting to first understand the range of energy our body’s needed to perform recover, and look a certain way. But taken too seriously, tracking macros has taught you that your body can’t be trusted. Tracking has taught you that if you figure out the right mathematical formual you’re guaranteed certain results. Start questioning if it’s really true that your body can’t be trusted.
- Does your body communicate its needs in ways beyond food?
- Does your body successfully tell you when it’s time to go to the bathroom?
- What other things does your body do automatically without your micromanagement?
- Does your body do things for you every day that are worthy of your trust?
- My guess is yes! Just like any relationship, as you’re working with building trust with your body, experiment, reflect and take steps towards trust.
- Get Clear on What Matters Most in Life. Ultimately, the purpose of food is to help give you energy to live out your life. The purpose of life is NOT to obsess about food. Ask yourself whether or not you believe this statement: if it costs you your peace of mind, it’s too expensive. If you believe that statement to be true, then question whether your habit of macro counting is benefiting your life or if you need to transition to a more intuitive way of eating.
Ready to Make the Switch?
How to transition to Intuitive Eating
- Cold Turkey – To be honest, I stopped tracking macros cold turkey. I didn’t track a single macro and I focused on eating whole foods. The first week was tough; I still found myself adding up numbers in my head. Once you track macros for a few years, it becomes habit to measure portions sizes out in your head and calculate their protein, fat, and carb content. But as the days went on, I found myself focusing less and less on the macros and more on how my body was feeling.
- Wean Off – If going cold turkey scares you, try 3 days off and 4 days on approach where you don’t track Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday and then track Friday / Saturday / Sunday / Monday. Why are those days best? Well you’ve likely got a really good routine during the week so you’re more likely to stick to that and will feel more in control. Whereas the weekends have less routine and you can feel really out of control and not know how or when to eat which could set you up for skipping meals and over-eating later in the day. Baby steps – we’ll get there.
- Focus on Whole Foods – Focus on the rule of 4 when filling your plate with food. 1 – fill 1/4 of your plate with a lean, organic protein source. 2 – fill 1/4 your plate with a starchy non-grain carbohydrate (sweet potato, squash, beans, corn, peas, fruit, etc). 3 – fill 1/2 your plate with green veggies (salad, asparagus, peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc). 4 – 2t. of healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, nut butters/nuts/seeds, etc)
- Minimize Processed Food – the less processed carbs, sugar, and vegetable oil you consume, the less inflammation and blood sugar roller coaster trips you’ll be taking throughout the day. Not only do these foods make you feel like garbage, but they can cause accumulative health conditions, some of which can lead to chronic disease. Tune into how your body feels – if you feel icky after a meal, good chance that there was something in there that is causing psychological and metabolic damage. We don’t want to create a disordered way of eating by fearing these foods, rather just become aware of how they make you feel and let that be incentive enough to choose a different option.
- Listen to Hunger cues – From here on out, you’ll be focused on hunger cues and eating healthy, nutrient-dense food. You’ll have days where you’re more hungry than others and you’ll have days where you eat less than what your macros used to call for. Bottom line is, if you’re out to dinner, we don’t want you stressing about the carb content or the fat content and feeling obligated to get a salad. Is there anything wrong with getting a salad? NO, not if that’s actually what you want. But if you want the fully loaded bison burger and sweet potato fries, that’s what you are going to enjoy.
- Don’t be an A**hole – At this point in your health and fitness journey , you should be able to trust your body to tell you what it needs. Obviously it’s going to be a continuous work in progress, but the point is, ‘not tracking’ is not going to be an excuse to eat all the burgers and fries and milkshakes and call it ‘trusting my body.’ Just as counting macros is not intended to be a free for all with just “hitting numbers,” either.
My Favorite Resources to help Support you in your Transition
Subscrie to our You Tube Channel for a video on how to Transition from Macro-Counting to Intuitive Eating.
Follow @jessiemgolden on Instagram for daily body-positive and intuitive eating inspiration
Read the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole
Struggling to do things on your own? Let us help you diets the extreme dieting mindset and teach you how to listen to your body’s cues so you can live a life of freedom and enjoy abundant confidence. Click here to APPLY!