Doing Calories: The Practices of Dieting Using Calorie Counting App MyFitnessPal

Metric Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-290-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-289-5

Publication date: 24 September 2018


The existing literature on fatness has critically discussed meanings and morals associated with body weight and explored people’s experiences of weight loss attempts. However, little attention has been paid to the practices of dieting – how it is ‘done’. Based on an interview study involving 31 participants, who shared their self-tracking experience of using the MyFitnessPal calorie counting app, we focus on the practices of ‘doing’ calories. First, we discuss the practices of temporality of logging food, showing that the use of MyFitnessPal not only has to be fitted into daily routines but can also transform them. Then, we look at the practices of precision or users’ various ways of turning the ‘messiness’ of food into precise numbers. Lastly, we explore users’ practices of adjustments – their attitudes to adherence to their daily calorie goal and ways of dealing with going above it. Based on our findings we suggest calorie counting is not a straightforward data collection, but one that involves constant practical strategies and negotiations, and can both influence and be influenced by other everyday practices.



Gabija Didžiokaitė, Paula Saukko and Christian Greiffenhagen (2018). 'Doing Calories: The Practices of Dieting Using Calorie Counting App MyFitnessPal', in Btihaj Ajana (ed.) Metric Culture. Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 137-155

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