stop counting calories

Lauren Vanderstukken

An open letter: why I prefer happiness instead of counting calories

As teenagers, we grow up in a society where nothing is ever good enough. Good grades. Great, but are you the best student in class? Nice hobby. Then why didn’t you win that competition? Size 6. Skinny, but not yet Kate Moss.


Ideal images are everywhere, it’s like they’re following us a a shadow. You just have to unlock your phone, open Instagram and there they are. The prettiest girls in school, the most beautiful women on the planet and the fittest fitness-gurus of the gym. Their account is a perfect reflection of the even more perfect life they’re living. The prettiest girls are having fun with their equally pretty friends. The beautiful women are enjoying their low calorie salad like it’s a cheeseburger. The fitness-gurus are having the time of their lives on the treadmill. And here I am, on my couch, staring at my smartphone with a bag of chips next to me that’s already half-empty. What a failure, right?

Taking control

In the average teenager’s world everything is constantly changing. Things surrounding us, next to us and even within us. Without having the least of control over something. And that’s all we youngsters are looking for. Control. Being an ‘adult’. One time we can’t wait to be all grown up, the next time we can’t postpone it long enough. So we try to pull the strings of the things we do have in our own hands. And food appears to be one of those things.

Sunday evening, you visit your grandma for a weekly dinner with the whole family. The first thing you hear when you enter the room is ‘Wow, you look great. Did you lose some weight?’. It brightens you up. And soon, you find yourself discussing the newest healthy food trends. ‘I’ve stopped eating carbs for two weeks now, isn’t that great?’ Five minutes later, your grandma serves her delicious fries with some homemade mayonnaise and wine is poured out generously. You truly enjoy the fries and the yummy glass of wine even more. But the joy does not compensate the guilt that befalls you at night like a rain shower on a sunny day. You’ve lost control once again.

Why I prefer happiness instead of counting calories

Healthy, not hungry

So what is being healthy? Obsessing over food, counting calories of every bite you take, feeling guilty over that little piece of chocolate you had with your coffee? Well, not for me. Two years ago, when I was five kilos heavier, I was healthier and happier than I am now. At least I could come home from school and eat that chocolate waffle without feeling guilty.

What we should teach teenagers, is not that pasta or potatoes aren’t good for us. Not that the ice-cream you had for dessert was a sin. Not that every recipe you didn’t find in a healthy cookery book is going to make you gain three kilos. We should teach them to enjoy that chocolate waffle to the fullest. And that they should be able to enjoy an apple equally as much the next day. But most important, we should teach them that they are good enough the way they are.

It took me a while to be able to accept it. And, believe me, it can still be very hard at times. But not everyone is going to fit in that size 2 skirt. And however the skirt looks great on the size 2 girls, it looks just as great on the girl wearing it in a size 12.

Written by Lauren Vanderstukken [INSTAGRAM, TWITTER]

Lauren Vanderstukken

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