How is everyone this week?! Today I have for you the second instalment in my ‘Heal Your Relationship With Food’ series, yay! We’re going to be talking all about that dreaded C-word… CALORIES.
- Why calories need to be put in their place.
- What is MORE important for your weight loss goals.
- How to keep track of your calories the sane way, whilst focusing on what really matters.
Great, I’m going to jump right into the deep end here and tell you to start basing all your food choices on NUTRIENTS, not calories. Next time you open your fridge, think of what would be the best fuel for your body. What will give you the most sustained energy? What will give you a good dose of nutrients?
As a health-nerd, it pains me to see how the marketing of junk food over the years has instilled this crazy mentality that if something is lower in calories then it’s healthier… No, nope, not at all! Calories are simply a unit of energy, nothing more. They do NOT tell us how many nutrients are in that food or how it will affect our metabolism.
There are lots of unhealthy foods out there that are low in calories, does that suddenly make them healthy?! Of course not! The same goes with diets; pretty please (with a cherry on top) stay far away from extremely low calorie diets, they’re not only unsustainable, they are dangerous to your health!
In fact, although most people will go on low caloric diets to lose weight, you’ll find that they have the opposite effect. If you restrict yourself of calories, you also restrict yourself from nutrients and your metabolism NEEDS nutrients to work effectively. I like to think of metabolism as a series of steps and at each step there is a locked door; well, nutrients are the keys to unlocking those doors. If you don’t have the keys, you’re metabolism won’t work properly!
So, never think of lower calories as being healthier, because this isn’t always the case.
I also think we forget just how smart our bodies are. I mean, the things that go on in our body every second of every day is mind-blowing. Our bodies do so much for us, even when it comes to weight-control – the only problem is that we often let our bad relationship with food get in the way. If we provide our bodies with an adequate amount of energy, enough of each macronutrient, plenty of micronutrients, enough sleep and manage our stress levels, our bodies will co-operate. In fact, all the systems in control of your weight will gradually bring you to a healthy weight most suited to your body. But again, you HAVE to provide your body with the right tools.
Ok, so now that we’re all on the same page, let’s discuss the whole ‘energy in’, ‘energy out’ thing. Here’s where it can get a little confusing. I know I’ve just been blabbing on about how you shouldn’t pay so much attention to calories and you’re probably thinking ‘well what about if you want to lose weight? Don’t you need to burn more calories than you’re consuming?’. If you were thinking this, then you would be correct.
…BUT, although this is true, relying solely on this thinking can often do more harm than good. Focusing on calories alone is not only unsustainable and a sure way to develop a bad relationship with food, it can also lead you to think ‘hmmm, if I can only have 300 calories right now, I’m going to make sure they’re the yummiest 300 calories ever’… Sound familiar?! Ha! That’s where the problem lies – people think it’s the calories that count more and they don’t pay any attention to the TYPE of food that they’re eating.
When it comes to weight loss and your overall health, just burning off calories or restricting calories is not as important as improving our metabolism, lowering insulin levels and promoting insulin sensitivity – optimise these things and your body will thank you for it, believe me! And how can this be done? You guessed it – through eating healthy REAL food.
You can still keep track of how many calories you are consuming during the day, but don’t let that be the deciding factor of your food choices. If your goal is to lose or gain weight, I highly recommend downloading the app ‘myfitnesspal’ (fairly certain it’s free). My nutrition lecturer/tutor introduced me to this app earlier this year and I LOVE it. I personally have been trying to put on weight (my metabolism seems to work a little too well) and it helps to ensure that I am always meeting my goals.
To use myfitnesspal you type in the foods you are eating and it does the calculating for you, but it also shows you all your macro- (carbohydrate, fat, protein) and micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) statistics for that day. This way you’re keeping on track for you goals, as well as working towards meeting your daily nutritional requirements!
I really hope this helped you make sense of calories and their role in a healthy relationship with food and weight loss. If you missed the first instalment click here. Just remember – base your food choices on nutrients, not calories!
Goodnight guys! Sweet dreams. Xo
P.S. I was not sponsored by myfitnesspal, just genuinely use it and love it haha 🙂