I lived in the calories world for so long, it’s hard for me to remember what it’s like to actually care about how many calories are in a food. But, the other day I was reminded of this time in my life. I was talking with someone at the gym, and she mentioned her 1200 calorie diet along with how much exercise she was doing each day. I wanted to feed her right then and there.
This made me stop and think – people actually still think that calories are the only thing that matters? Sometimes I get caught up in my own little bubble that I forget not everyone has come to the conclusions I have about calories, which is this: calories don’t matter.
Yep, I’m a holistic health coach and personal trainer, and I’m telling you that calories don’t matter.
If that is the case, then hasn’t everything we’ve been told about nutrition been a lie?
The truth is the quantity of calories isn’t as important as the quality of the calories. I often pose this question to people who struggle to understand this concept. Would you really lose more weight and be healthier eating 1200 calories of Snickers each day compared with 2500 calories of avocado, broccoli, and salmon?
When you put it that way, it makes so much more sense.
However, it’s not that easy because food manufacturers make us think that we are eating healthy foods. They cover the labels of packaged foods with pretty colors and words such as “low-fat,” “heart-healthy,” “low-calorie,” and “healthy.” But honestly, these foods are just glorified candy. They too contain sugar, vegetable oils, gluten, and artificial colors and preservatives.
But, because marketers are so clever, we’ve been tricked into thinking that eating these fake foods are healthier than eating more of foods that don’t require labels, aka real, whole food.
We’ve been told to avoid fat because it will make us fat, but we’ve only gotten fatter and fatter.
We’ve been told sugar is fine in moderation, but ever since we started added sugar to everything, we’ve only become more addicted.
We’ve been told to eat less and exercise more, but we’ve only continued to set obesity records.
Obviously, what we are doing and preaching isn’t working, otherwise we wouldn’t be in this mess.
So what does work? What does work is not focusing on the calories; rather, we must start focusing on the nutrients in foods. What micronutrients are we gaining from eating a food? Can it be traced back to nature very readily? Could’ve we eaten this food 100 years ago?
When we start to focus on eating real, whole food that is found in nature as a single ingredient – meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and other foods of the like - we start to notice changes. When we eat these foods, our bodies naturally know what to do with the calories and micronutrients. We put them to good use to help our bodies function as they should. Our energy, sleep, digestion, mental health, skin, and hormones regulate and improve. We become the healthiest versions of ourselves.
But we can’t achieve this if we keep holding onto the calorie myth. 1200 calories is what you would need to consume if you literally laid in bed all day and didn’t move or think. How can we expect to thrive and live a healthy life off of that?
Throw out the foods with labels. They can’t be trusted. Stock up on the foods that don’t need labels. Eat them until you’re satisfied rather than by reaching some arbitrary number. Trust me – you’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.