Something that I have noticed lately is the increased attention being given to apps that are designed to assist people in their dieting endeavors... by tracking their daily intake of food and calories. I read a really good article recently (which you can read here) that challenges the notion that these apps cause eating disorders. A lot of articles have come out saying that these apps cause eating disorders, but many people use these apps to count their daily caloric intake and never develop an eating disorder (although this does not elevate my opinion of them- more on that in a minute). Eating disorders are not usually 'caused' by one thing (for more on this and other eating disorder myths, follow this link). People with a genetic predisposition to developing an eating disorder may be triggered by using a calorie counting app, but the app is not usually the culprit. One phrase that I have heard often (as related to causes of eating disorders) is that 'genes load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.'
While these apps may not cause eating disorders, I think that they can foster an unhealthy dependence, as well as an unhealthy attitude towards food and calories. It is important to be able to fuel our bodies and get what we need nutritionally, and it is good to be knowledgeable about healthy portion sizes! But if we cling too tightly to numbers, whether it is how many calories we are eating, or the number that is on the scale, I think that we run the risk of being occupied with the wrong things. Health is important. And our health does not just consist of our physical health- it consists of our emotional health, our mental health, and our spiritual health as well. I think that each component of our health is extremely important and without one piece, we cannot function at an optimal level. Rather than getting hung up on numbers, it might be to our benefit to focus on our overall health- how we feel, how quickly we can recover when we are active, building character, finding lasting significance, identity and purpose through faith, and working to maintain stability and positive coping skills through the ups and downs of life!