Despite what our culture says, healthy eating doesn’t need to be tracked every step of the way. Here’s how to tune into your success without the numbers.


Relying on numbers as a barometer for success with nutrition can be tricky business. It’s asking for trouble when you step on the scale to decide what type of day you’re going to have. 

For many people, it can look something like this:

Am I up a pound? Okay, it’s going to be a bad day. 

Am I down today? Okay, that means I can have a good day.

Does that honestly sound like a life you would wish for yourself? 

The fact is, your body is a complicated, beautiful, sophisticated entity—and, leaning on its measurement of the earth’s gravitational pull as an indicator of your worth as a human being (or a determinant of the type of day you’re going to have) is futile. 

Don’t fall into this trap.

While it’s tempting to buy into measuring your health success with numbers, it won’t ultimately bring you peace or well-being. 

Yes, we’re sold by media and through advertising that being healthy is all about tracking numbers. But, the truth is, as a culture, we talk about nutrition in all the wrong ways. Measuring your progress or worth as a human being with pounds and inches can be downright harmful, often leading to long-term weight gain, binge eating, and an increased risk for eating disorders.

So what can you do if you’re aiming to honor your body’s needs and rejecting rigid dieting rules? How do you measure progress and assess how you’re doing with your nutrition and health?

Here are some ideas for recognizing your health wins and progress without the numbers.

1.  Improved energy levels. 

Do you notice you have more energy and excitement for the things in life that are most important to you? Are you able to connect to the things, people, and moments that are most important in your life? If you notice improved energy levels and more vitality for life, give food and your nourishment some credit! Without adequate nourishment, it’s difficult to have adequate energy levels for the activities in your daily life. 

2. Being more present in your life. 

Do you notice you have more time, energy, and brainpower? When you’re dieting, it’s not uncommon to spend the majority of your waking hours thinking about food and, as a result, not being as present in your life as you’d like to be. If you notice you’re able to be present and experience your life in the now, give yourself some credit! You’re doing something right. 

3. Improved mood. 

Are you easier to be around now that you’re nourishing your body adequately? Do you feel more present, engaged, and hopeful? If so, that’s a sign of success and progress with your eating. 

4. Smiling more. 

Are you a happier person now that you are nourished? Is it easier and more natural to smile, and connect to people you care about in meaningful ways? Improved mood and smiling more are often common positive side effects of healing your relationship with your food, and finding a more positive, sustainable approach to feeding yourself.  

5. Obsessing about food less. 

Do you recognize that you’ve gained back more precious time and energy now that you’ve rejected dieting? It’s not uncommon to find yourself doing more important things in life once you’ve moved away from the constant food and body worry that comes with rigid dieting and manipulating your body. 

6. More flexibility around food choices. 

Are you able to say yes to more social eating opportunities? Are you more trusting of your body? If so, give yourself some credit! Approaching food in a healthy, positive and sustainable way brings more flexibility with food and with life in general, opening up opportunities to connect with the people you hold most dear. 

Remember, take a minute to celebrate your wins, big and small.  It’s a powerful way to continue moving in the right direction and progress with your relationship with food.

Adapted from the original post.

Paige Smathers, RDN, CD is a nutrition therapist based in Salt Lake City who helps individuals find positive ways to overcome struggles they experience with food and body image. She specializes in practical, down-to-earth solutions for those in eating disorder recovery and chronic dieting through a weight-neutral positive approach. Paige hosts the popular Nutrition Matters Podcast and runs her private practice, Positive Nutrition.