First let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with counting calories or not counting calories. I think everyone needs to do what works for them! The key is to do what works. If something isn't working, change your approach.
I decided to break up with My Fitness Pal (a free calorie/food tracking app) about 2 months ago. I counted my calories for over a year and maybe even up to 2 years. We had a long, good relationship. I actually enjoyed it most of the time. I like structure and I LOVE food! It worked well but it was, well, work. It took time and energy. I also got to the point where I was, you could say, obsessed. I finally realized that maybe what I was doing wasn't necessarily "healthy".
I think nutrition and food is somewhat of a spiritual journey. I know that sounds a little hippie, wait, isn't it cool to be like a hippie now anyway. :) I've always been somewhat of a spiritual person. I find it fascinating the way food can heal, give you energy, make you smarter or make you feel the complete opposite. The older I get, the more I've noticed that food has a profound effect on me. Or, maybe I'm just noticing, the older I get!
When I was counting calories, I still focused on food quality but I tended to eat the same meals over and over. While I like simplicity, it did get boring. It made it easier to fill in MFP. I lacked variety of nutrient intake and flavor. I also missed having more fat now and then. And here's the thing, our bodies are constantly burning a different amount of calories daily.
I decided to shift my focus to food quality, variety, and awareness of different vitals like energy, mood, and sleep. The main reason, to evolve and grow. I was also greatly inspired after reading a book by Dr. Kelly Brogan, A Mind of Your Own. She preaches a "Paleo" style of eating while including whole food carbohydrates. I leaned in, put my food scale away, and started eating yummy, satisfying meals.
I think whatever style of eating you do, it must fit your personality. At the end of the day, calories do matter most but how your body processes those calories is going to be different between macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat). It will also be very different from person to person. Nutrition is a science that could be debated because there are so many schools of thought and a lot of them are right. I think the stress of eating can be more harmful to someone than the food itself!
So, for now, I'm enjoying new recipes, made with quality ingredients that are gluten & dairy free (more on that in another blog). I am monitoring my weight as well as the vitals I noted previously. I should also note that my goals are to maintain my weight while doing a little body recomposition (build muscle and thereby lose fat because of increased muscle tissue). If I was trying to do a bikini competition (which I don't plan on doing at this time) then counting calories would be beneficial to dialing things in. If you are over weight and trying to lose fat, most would benefit from simply focusing on food quality first.
Whatever you do, I hope that you do it because it makes you feel good!