I’m amazed by how many people base their eating habits on the number of calories they consume, how they justify eating certain foods because they are low in calories even if they are high in sugar and preservatives and that most people have committed to memory how many calories a skinny sugar free caramel latte has. The truth is, we live in a calorie crazed world and we spend our days adding up the calories we ate and subtracting them from the ones we burned.
Calorie counting is one of my biggest pet peeves and the first habit I work with my clients to break. Yes, we should be reading food labels, but mostly to check ingredients. Based on personal experience and what I have learned through my health coaching practice, the most successful eating plans do not hinge on calorie counting. I may sound like a broken record here, but when you eat a diet rich in whole foods and low in packaged foods, calories don’t even come into play. Why? Because, in simplest terms, calories equal energy and when you eat real food that your body can use and transform into energy, there will be nothing leftover to store as fat.
Here’s an example: I witnessed a conversation the other day in which a woman was questioning her colleague who was drinking cocnut water because it has 60 calories per serving. This same person would choose a zero-calorie diet soda instead. This baffled me. Pure coconut water is just that – pure and natural. There is nothing else in it provided it is plain. So when you consume it, your body uses the nutrition and electrolytes to hydrate and energize. On the contrary, diet soda is loaded with chemicals and artificial sweeteners so although it has no calories, the ingredients are foreign to the body. Just imagine the ways that the body may choose to use those chemicals – store them as fat maybe? (Note: There is evidence that diet soda may cause weight gain).
Similarly, people are uneasy about foods like nuts and avocadoes that are naturally high in fat yet the body needs these foods to build healthy cells, fuel the brain, absorb vitamins, protect organs and more!Low fat cookies or crackers just wouldn’t cut it.
Here’s a quick and easy way to think about it. Calorie density is the number of calories per pound of food and is lowest for unprocessed plant foods. Filling up on these foods keeps calorie consumption low and creates healthy weight loss.
Eat, 1 lb of Oreo cookies for 2200 calories
1 lb of 2% cottage cheese
2 lbs cantaloupe
1 lb apples
1 lb tofu
1 lb kale
2 lbs celery
1 lb lettuce
1 lb carrots
1 lb papaya
1 lb onion
2 lbs cucumber all for 2225 calories
Eat smart and eat well.