This Is What Happened When a Food Editor Finally Stopped Counting Calories

Sacha Strebe

If you've ever indulged on a treat that felt so good in the moment but riddled you with guilt, raise your hand. Don't worry, you're not alone. We've all been there. But food editor (formerly at MindBodyGreen) and author of The New Nourishing cookbook, Leah Vanderveldt wants us to ban any feeling of remorse around food and swap calorie-counting for nutrient-tallying instead. When dieting made her "stress out about food," she knew it was time to switch her mindset.

"I knew, in theory, it was a huge waste of my time and energy (feeling guilty about food), but I finally reached a point where I was sick of feeling crappy about having a couple slices of pizza and some ice cream on a Friday," she told MyDomaine. "I decided to say fuck it. I'm not going to keep bringing myself down with arbitrary rules. Everything is allowed, and I'm going to start tuning into what I really want." (We couldn't agree more with the sentiment behind that statement.)

Since then, Vanderveldt has adopted an intuitive eating food philosophy, which "honors our individual needs." She adds: "Once I relinquished my death grip on control around food, I realized that my body had the wisdom to tell me when I was hungry, feeling rundown, or anxious. I now try to assess my current state and work with it, not against it." This meant incorporating more plant-based meals and easing up on the pressure to eat "clean"—another word she's banned. ("It assumes that food has a moral code with some being good and some bad, and at the end of the day food is food.")

Now she doesn't "feel like a failure" every time she eats something outside of what's considered healthy. "I enjoy my life way more when I feel like I can treat myself regularly without trying to 'make up' for it later," she says. "Our bodies are smarter than we realize, and they know how to balance us out when we treat them kindly." Ahead Vanderveldt explains why calorie-counting is unhealthy and the reason we all need to ban the word "guilt-free." Keep scrolling for four exclusive plant-based recipes from her new book.

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