At one stage, I think I must have been the only restrictive eater to strictly limit my calories yet eat a huge soft-serve ice cream most days. I would ‘save up’ my calories so that I could have it. The nutritional value of foods was not factored into my perverse approach to food way back then. A calorie was a calorie. I had my X number of calories each day, and it didn’t matter if I used them up with X amounts of snickers bars, ice cream or fresh vegetables. Each and every calorie I deemed to be exactly the same.
I honestly believe that this possibly is the biggest pitfall of modern dietetics. I’m not saying that all dieticians and nutritionists subscribe to this way of thinking, but there are some that certainly do. In the past, I saw two clinical registered dieticians. They both to a large extent didn’t care where I was getting my calories from, just so long as I was reaching the prescribed amount of calories per day. It makes me furious even now remembering that one of these dieticians suggested I eat a frozen, pre-packaged portion-controlled meal each day for lunch, so as to make sure that I was getting in my calories. Firstly, these types of processed meals provide little more nutritional value than I could get chowing down on a piece of cardboard, and secondly, this kind of advice just reinforces the ridiculous theory that every calorie is created equal!
Forget everything you’ve been taught about calories and counting grams of protein, fat and carbs. It ain’t going to do you any good if you’re falling into the trap of filling up your ‘daily allowance’ with meals comprised of shockingly over-processed and over-refined ‘low-carb-sugar-free’ yoghurts, chalky ‘light’ bread and unrecognizable ‘fat-free’ deli ‘meats’, all washed down with a few chemically laden diet sodas. You cannot evaluate the health of a food based upon the amount of calories, grams of fat, carbohydrate and protein it provides. This would be to insult the intricate design of the human body and the unbelievably complex way in which it operates. The health of a food can be evaluated on what nutritional value it brings to the body when consumed, how easily your body will recognize and respond to that food and be able to metabolize, break it down and utilize its healthful qualities via various biochemical reactions.
For example, avocado is perhaps one of the most nourishing foods found in nature (and just happens to be my absolute favourite food of all time!). Yet, for many years I shied away from avocadoes because I was turned off by their ‘fatty’ reputation. It’s utterly sad to me now that this was such an unnecessary deprivation! Yes, avocadoes are dense, calorically-speaking, and high in fat. However, when you are eating raw fats from avocadoes, these fats can be easily recognized and processed by the body, ie the body knows exactly what to do with these fats and it can utilize them and break them down properly for elimination. The same amount of fat and calories when consumed in say, a heavily processed cheeseburger, would be virtually unrecognizable to the digestive system, and therefore extremely difficult to break down for use and proper elimination. This will promote a build of mucus residue and acidity in the body. And this is before even taking into account that avocadoes undeniably provide a whole package of wonderful minerals and nutrients along with those fats, while the cheeseburger provides absolutely nothing of any real health value when consumed.
To prescribe to counting calories is truly a miserable way to eat and live – I’ve been there countless times. It is absolutely liberating to be able to free yourself of that mindset. Remember, what you want to look for when buying pre-prepared foods are the ingredients, not the calorie count or grams of fat per serving as you might have done in the past. Natural foods and natural ingredients are recognizable by the body and therefore can be broken down, whereas unnatural substances are virtually unrecognizable and will tend to be stored as acidic waste in the body.
If you want to know more on this topic, I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. This book is the in depth record of the most comprehensive physical study of human nutrition ever conducted, and it absolutely blows the old ‘calories in = calories out’ theory right out of the water. What this study irrefutably proved was that people who ate a largely plant-based diet of mostly unrefined whole foods actually could eat substantially more calories, and yet remain significantly slimmer than those people who subsisted on a diet that included a higher percentage of animal products and refined substances.
So, ditch the counting and enjoy the freedom it brings!