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What I Wish I Could Forget

Sometimes I wish I had never heard of calories.

This Friday, Emily over at Beauty in Christ posted about, among many other things, the anxiety of going out to get a Sonic milkshake, and how bravely and beautifully she was able to let that anxiety go.

I love Sonic milkshakes, but I don’t know if I have the courage to go out and get one.

I think of myself as mostly recovered from anorexia. And I am. Mostly.

But I also have a very good memory. And that means that I still remember how many calories are in…not everything…but probably 75% or more of foods that I eat on a regular basis.

I looked up those numbers on the Sonic milkshakes a few years ago, and I just can’t forget them. If I were to sit down and drink one, that number would jump up in my brain, bouncing around and clattering pots and pans until I went insane.

Not only do I know how many calories are in a Sonic milkshake, but I also know how many calories are in:

  • a banana
  • an apple
  • an orange
  • an ounce of peanut butter
  • an ounce of dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • whole milk vs. skim milk (vs. 1%, 2%, chocolate milk and almond milk)
  • a Reese’s peanut butter cup
  • an avocado
  • a slice of mozzarella (vs. a slice of cheddar or a slice of muenster)
  • a large egg (vs. an extra large egg or a jumbo egg)
  • a tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • an ounce of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • a tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 4 ounces of pasta
  • a medium-sized muffin
  • a can of soda
  • a glass of lemonade
  • a tablespoon of mustard
  • a bratwurst
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • a large sweet potato
  • pumpkin pie (vs. banana cream pie vs. blueberry pie)
  • I’ll stop there.

And I’ll tell you something. When you have all those numbers there in your brain, it’s really hard not to think of them. Kind of like not thinking about your parents’ home when you think of your parents. Or not thinking of desks and classrooms when you think of school. And I do try, very hard.

There are, thank goodness, a few things for which I don’t know the calorie content, like:

  • pizza (varies enormously)
  • chia seeds
  • French fries (Yup. Don’t know, don’t wanna know.)
  • pineapple
  • General Tso’s chicken
  • hard cider
  • refried beans
  • the chocolate-peanut clusters I can buy sometimes in bulk food sections
  • plantains
  • edamame
  • chicken nuggets
  • coconut flour (Can I confess a secret, though? I don’t like coconut flour.)

Do you like coconut flour?

Name three foods for which you don’t know the calorie content. (If you have to think hard to come up with three, like I just did coming up with this list above, that’s a warning.)

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  1. Diane Wahto says:

    I used to be really concerned about calories. I suppose I still am, as I keep my food diary on My Fitness Pal. However, I’m pretty aware of how much I need to eat every day, so it’s all pretty automatic. As for three foods for which I don’t know the calorie count, the shrimp wrap I had at the Hyatt restaurant before Music Theater yesterday, the turkey panini at Watermark Books and Cafe, and the spumoni I had at the Mediterrean Cafe a few days ago. Yes, I go out to eat a lot and it’s impossible to keep track of calories.

    I do know how many calories are in the most of the food you listed. I once got a MacDonald’s milkshake on the way home from visiting someone in the family. MacDonald’s lists calorie counts on it menu board and that milkshake wasn’t too high in calories. However, because I so seldom eat that kind of thing nowadays, it almost made me ill.

    One of these days, you’ll probably get bored with counting calories. As for now, maybe it’s a good thing to do. Doing so probably keeps you healthy.

    1. Joyce says:

      Trust me, I”m very, very bored with counting calories. That doesn’t make it easy to stop.

  2. Cora says:


    Does that sum up the empathy/understanding I have with this? I don’t understand how people – once you’ve learned calorie contents once – can ever forget them. Or, maybe they don’t? All I know is even the more recovered that I become, the numbers are still there, and as I see it, will always be there. I hate it, it drives me crazy, and I wish I could just go back and “un learn.” But I guess the work lies less in trying to forget, but rather in learning to not care and not let those numbers affect our mood or decisions.

    Even the foods that I don’t specifically know the counts of, I feel like I’ve become a pretty professional guesser. But let’s see. I actually don’t remember beans and legumes very well, and do not know the calorie contents of a piece of bacon or sausage or – ya – french fries. I really like how this phase of my recovery I am making an extra extra effort to not look at any nutrition labels. I just do not want to know.

    1. Joyce says:

      I’m a really good guesser, too.
      It drives me crazy that I sometimes have to look at nutrition labels anyway to see what ingredients there are. Sometimes I try to put my thumb over the number.

    2. Diane Wahto says:

      It helps to be old and have a lot of other things on your mind. Like, for instance, what was that person’s name who just spoke to you in the restaurant. I do look at the labels on food that I buy. I want to know what i’m eating. Sometimes I won’t buy something if the ingredients aren’t heathful.

  3. Same here. If it was possible to not just learn but unlearn I’d really like to delete all calorie counts from my memory. Not the knowledge of nutrition in general but numbers shouldn’t influence our food choices.
    Foods that I don’t know the calorie count of”
    Sweet potatoes
    Various cheeses
    Any homemade confitures
    I think I’d be able to come up with more but those were the first few.

    1. Joyce says:

      Confiture is an excellent word! I had to look it up.

      1. … and that’s why I shouldn’t write comments late at night. My mind was thinking of the German word ‘Konfitüre’ and as I don’t like using the term ‘jam’ I tried to find an alternative and just ended up typing what I did :D.

        1. Joyce says:

          Haha no worries! I think it’s awesome 🙂

  4. Ellie says:

    This is a coincidence because someone asked my on Instagram today if I count my macros. I responded with a simple “no” without going into explanation. Mostly, I think it would be a pain to try to remember that and it’s a burden I don’t want my mind to have. I also usually try to eat things without labels, so that makes it easy 🙂

    1. Joyce says:

      It’s also an unnecessary burden. We can listen to our intuitive eating signals. You don’t have to count calories because your body is counting calories for you.

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