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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

On my plate: This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for deleting my calorie-tracking apps

A journey to enjoying a healthier relationship with food 

By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 


Content warning: this article contains discussions of disordered eating, a topic that may be sensitive to some readers. For more information and resources about disordered eating and eating disorders visit https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/health-topic/eating-disorders. 


Nothing brings me more joy than when my family is together on Thanksgiving, bonding over a beautiful autumnal feast. Since I was a kid, I loved this food-and-family-centric day very much.  

After graduating high school though, I entered a period in my life during which I started to struggle with the thing I held closest to my heart: food. It began with me finding it difficult to accept the new body I had grown into, which led me to tracking my calorie intake each day. I thought this was the right thing to do and would ultimately lead to me slimming down and finding a happier weight. 

During this period of my life, Thanksgiving became difficult. My need to track my calorie intake made it challenging to enjoy my favorite holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, while everyone arrived and put their handmade dishes onto the dinner table, I was mentally preparing to construct my plate in a way that wouldn’t exceed my calorie limit. After dinner, I’d rush to my room to see how I had performed. I didn’t feel satisfied until my app reassured me that I had stayed on track.

For this period of time, my calorie-tracker ruled my life. I steered away from plans that centered around eating out. I felt anxiety in anticipation of family gatherings, knowing that there would be a lot of good food served. Even when friends lovingly surprised me with gifts in the form of food, I felt overwhelmed knowing that I had not accounted for it in my plan. 

My relationship with food became reduced to arbitrary numbers. It ignored the nutritional and emotional value of food, the love that went into the cultural dishes my mom made and the beauty behind the cultivation of food. 

There was a point at which those closest to me and I realized that my need to track my calories had become overly obsessive and harmful. After that realization, I tried to stop monitoring my calorie intake routinely until I felt ready to delete the app entirely. 

I’m grateful that I decided to rid myself of calorie-tracking apps for good. I am proud to have embraced a holistic and intuitive approach to eating. I eat and make myself meals that I think will satisfy and nourish me. I enjoy my cravings and appreciate the foods that used to feel like big no-nos. Having food security is a great privilege, and I’m grateful to be in a place where I have control over my food choices.

This Thanksgiving, I’m excited to sit around the dinner table and focus on filling my plate with what’s really important to me: incredible food, quality family time and gratitude.


Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu

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