Dieting in College without Counting: Part 4- Mentality (1/2)
By Ari Snaevarsson, Features Editor
Mentality in dieting is an issue nearly as fundamental as your eating habits themselves. Naturally, discussing a topic so grand in magnitude in so few words, despite this section’s span of two articles, will require that a lot of points are simplified, at the risk of coming across as reductionist. Understand that there is a lot more to this, and if fixing the way people think about eating was as simple as an undergraduate student writing two 700 word articles, obesity would be considered a rare anomaly by now.
Is counting calories unhealthy?
The reason this section has been divided into two articles is so that I can stress the importance of this first point before actually getting into the how-to. This is something that must be addressed before I can hope to impart on you what exemplifies an optimal dieting mentality.
If I had a nickel for every time someone put down their bag of Doritos to enlighten me with their pseudo-intellect regarding the unhealthiness of counting calories, I would have an unnecessary amount of nickels. The reality is that employing just a modicum of mindfulness about what you put into your body is going to be nothing short of instrumental in achieving your health and fitness goals. Taking anything to its extreme poses the risk of instilling an unhealthy mindset, but there is absolutely nothing extreme about being solicitous with your eating habits.
Rather, and no doubt you have heard this spiel before, we live in a country, and are part of a college environment, where getting a sugary soda with every meal, “treating” yourself to an extra-large pizza and dessert multiple times a week, getting blackout drunk every weekend, using energy drinks to power all-nighters, getting your daily serving of fruits and veggies in a week’s time (on a good week), and not knowing what a “calorie” is are all considered the norm. To perpetuate the idea that practicing some level of dietary self-control is unhealthy is to largely and fundamentally miss the mark.
Nevertheless, you will notice this entire series has been devoted to offering a system of dieting that does not include counting. My reasoning for this, if you will recall, is one of practicality. First of all, college is a stressful time; as much as I would love for everyone here to be counting their caloric and macronutrient intakes, that is a lot to ask of a population already stressing out about how to get through their busy schedules.
But the underlying assumption in my providing this method has always been that some students will pick this up and continue to be moderately mindful in how they eat, and some will want to take things to the next successive level (a level of which is not nearly as daunting and advanced as it seems at first glance), which would be counting calories.
I do, however, understand where some people are coming from on this issue, although I believe they are deeply misguided. There is clearly some level at which your diet begins to consume your life.
In this instance, those arguing that calorie-counting is unhealthy share the same premises with me. My conclusion, having competed in bodybuilding and learning about nutrition for the past four to five years, just happens to diverge from theirs. The way to remedy the devastating effects of dietary rigidity is not to avoid watching what you eat entirely, but to apply some moderation to your diet.
I have done my best to insure this piece did not devolve into a rant but rather remained an objective examination of facts. The next article will be more instructional in nature, guiding you on the proper diet mentality.