As we draw closer to January 2018 and the droves of resolutions guaranteed to sweep in with it, it’s an interesting thing to reflect on the practise of making New Year’s pacts to ourselves as a whole. After a holiday season choc-full of family dinners and festive parties, many of us commit to making a significant change to the way we eat in the upcoming year – thinking about our food choices, we want to feel more wholesome, healthier, and, in many cases, fitter or lighter. In order to achieve this, many of us will turn to calorie-counting diets to keep our eating habits in check. But what if it was more commonly-understood that counting calories is by no means a fast-track to health?
Multiple studies have shown that habitual calorie-counting promotes restrictive and obsessive approach to food. A brain in counting mode is a brain that thinks in terms of deprivation, which in turn leads to anxiety and can often trigger a more serious issue with disordered eating patterns. The black-and-white thought process concerning "good" and "bad" foods (which, to those on a diet, often directly – and incorrectly – translates to "low-" and "high-calorie" foods) is counterproductive to human wellness; eliminating entire food groups or actively restricting one’s energy consumption is dangerous for the body and mind alike.
In a time when most health-eating apps seem entirely hinged on the counting of calories (and of the exact number of grams of protein in that piece of shrimp you just sucked back, and let’s be honest, who has the time for that?), it would seem that technology is no friend to those who wish to form healthier eating habits without seeing nothing but numbers every time they clap eyes on a snack. Think again – ATE, a meal-tracking photo journal, makes keeping track of what you’ve eaten recently convenient, effective, and, most importantly, stress-free. Rather than entering the nit-picky details of their food choices into a complex – and anxiety-inducing – database, all that ATE requires of its user is that they snap a picture of their meal or snack and then make a judgement as to whether it was "On" or "Off" their personal path to eating their way to a better self. The photograph is then added to beautiful timeline of images built up over the user’s ATE history, generating a broad overview of their dietary choices to help them better understand what, how, and why they eat.
The parameters one uses to decide whether their food was on the "On" or "Off" path are entirely up to them. It’s a system that promotes not only accountability, but self-trust – if you genuinely feel that eating that piece of cake was a poorly-made decision (say, one made due to stress-eating urges, or unwanted pressure from friends to order dessert while eating out in a restaurant), then the "Off" option can be chosen without a red-lettered message or scold in sight. However, if you feel that you ate that soft, airy slice of wonder in accordance with your goals (be they weight loss, weight gain, or simply strengthening your relationship with food and your body), then "On" is the way to go.
Founded in 2016 by Tom Kiss, a "business guy" attempting to transform his body for the better without sacrificing his love for baked goods and dairy, ATE is backed by a strong team of registered dieticians, nutritionists, and personal trainers with the collective goal of helping ATE users to achieve the best relationship with food and their bodies possible. Most importantly, the ATE team are driving towards an approach to health that transcends quantification – because happiness in your body, mind and soul can’t be reduced to a number. Step away from counting this New Year, and get living.