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One of the most polarizing issues in healthy eating is counting calories. Some people say it’s the ONLY thing that works; other people say it ALWAYS steers you wrong. Whether you find it easy or get anxious just thinking about it, calorie counting is definitely a complex skill. It’s also very hard to get exactly right — the math gives us numbers that look so precise, but for many reasons, calorie counts (both what we eat and what we burn) are only estimates.

The Exact Number Is Not That Big a Deal

The most important help to mindful eating is to “account for” what you eat, and this can be done in several ways, like Weight Watchers Points or just plain eliminating problem foods. The image above comes from an infographic called “How to Fix a Broken Diet,” which gives lots of great tips about general principles for choosing foods and simple methods for estimating portions based on the size of your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb — measuring devices almost all of us are never without.

This infographic is long, but stick with it. It invites you to think about your body type and activity level as a way to get a baseline for good food strategies. The percentages it suggests for different body types reflect different ways to solve typical problems. If it’s hard to put weight on, feel free to eat more carbs to make sure you get your calories. If you gain a pound with a single glance at a cake, focus on satiating proteins and fats to make it easier to eat the right amount. And for every body type — make sure you get your vegetables!

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