January of 2012, it was right after Christmas and my weight had reached an all time high. I had gone over the weight that I said I never wanted to go over in my life. My aunt KH had just posted on facebook that she was going to try the cabbage soup diet to lose weight. So I decided to investigate what it was all about. I landed on http://www.cabbage-soup-diet.com/ and learned that the cabbage soup diet was homemade cabbage soup every day with certain other foods allowed each day for 7 days. I was so determined to lose weight, I went out and bought all my food for the week after work that day. I had never bought so much produce in my life! What I learned from the cabbage soup diet is that certain foods, like cabbage soup, have very few calories but they fill you up. Also, I was eating all whole real food that week! So, by the end of the 7 days, I had lost 8 pounds and was very motivated!
During the cabbage soup diet, I kept track of calories on www.myfitnesspal.com. Caroline introduced me to this website. There you can keep track of the food you've eaten for the day, and fitnesspal will calculate how many calories you have consumed. You can enter your weight and height and how much weight you want to lose, and it will calculate a calories per day goal for you. I learned quickly that I didn't want to waste my calories on a small food item that would use up all my calories for the meal and not fill me up. I kept track of calories for about 4 months and began to understand portion sizes and what it felt like to reach my calorie goal. It was fun to reach my daily goal and be able to see friends reaching their goals too!
Over the course of the few months counting calories, I also learned about whole foods, real food, eating clean, and my eating lifestyle changed. After a while, I didn't need to count calories anymore because I knew that I was eating lots of vegetables and foods that were not high in calorie count. All in all, a calorie is a calorie. So if you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. But if you want to eat and feel full, get healthy, and help your body heal, eat a balanced diet of real food with lots of vegetables!
My recommendation would be to start by counting calories until you have a lifestyle of eating real food that is balanced and meets your calorie goal. Then you will know how to eat from day to day and you will no longer need to count calories.