IN DEFENSE OF CALORIE COUNTING

I enjoy receiving emails from a few different fitness and nutritional sources. One of the websites I like is MindBodyGreen. I’ve had no reason to question them until this morning when I read something that irked me enough to want to write about it.

Hundreds of weight loss and “diet” tips are thrown at us all the time. One of the latest trends is to avoid counting calories. In the latest email from MindBodyGreen the author writes that we should avoid doing this because 500 worth of soda isn’t the same as 500 calories worth of Brussels Sprouts. Well, duh.

I think I can speak for most, if not all of us when I say, thank you for underestimating the readers’ intelligence here. For the beginner just entering into weight loss, this may be a good suggestion, but for those of us who do know the difference between a sugary drink and a vegetable, it’s insulting.

Keeping track of the food I eat through a website like MyFitnessPal is a great way to not only help me with portion control, but it also helps me ensure I get the right amount of nutrients, fiber, etc, I need. Calories are just one of the many tools I use to help keep my Way Of Eating where I want it to be. I never use it to replace healthy foods with junk and I never rely on counting up calories alone.

I think the original author of this article’s biggest mistake is to assume that her readers don’t know a darn thing about nutrition. We know, we know. We know that kale is one of the best foods out there. We know that white flour and white sugar has virtually nothing nutritionally for us. We know that we should be working out rather than sitting in front of the television. So why try to take away one item in our workshop?

Nutritionists should not be writing for all their readers with the same broad brushstroke. I would love to read an article that didn’t treat me like I knew zilch about the food I eat. I don’t have the degree, but I’ve probably done TONS of reading about nutrition and can sit and have an intellectual conversation with any PhD’d Nutritionist. And I bet a lot of you can too. I wouldn’t be reading all the emails and websites if it was a subject I wasn’t interested in learning more about.

At my age, it’s vitally important that I practice portion control. One of the ways I do this is by understanding not only the size of the portion of food I eat, but also the calorie count. It all goes hand in hand. Maybe a young person doesn’t need to exact such control over what they eat; youth is on their side. But even with all the physical activities I do, if I am not very careful about what I eat, I will gain weight. I wasn’t always this way, when I was young, I could eat whatever I wanted and I’d lose weight. It was pretty hard accepting that as we get older, this stops. At least for me it did.

Maybe I make the wrong assumption thinking there are others who are as meticulous as I am about counting calories. I’m much too busy to think about the caloric count of everything. Is that what you’re thinking? Sure, it takes a few minutes, but not that long. It takes about as long as checking into Four Square. And I dare say, it’s more worthwhile.

So, to all you health/nutrition writers: please understand that some of your audience knows a little bit about the subject you’re writing and also that not everyone fits neatly into little boxes.

Cheers!

 

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