Tag Archives: calories

Why calories should be ignored…

It has been months since I did a lesson on my course. My excuse is that I have been busy, and while that is definitely true, I feel the need to get back into the studying groove.  This morning, I picked up my next Nutrition lesson to discover… it is all about calories.

calories

Reading through the study lesson, it soon became clear that my attitude to calories (I don’t think they tell you the whole story and frankly are nothing more than numbers in a chart)  is absolutely right.  Did you know that the calorie data on the sides of the packets are calculated by either burning the food in a vacuum and measuring the energy output (ummm…. Our bodies are not in a vaccuum… and my body might not use the food like your body does.  Hell, I have conclusive proof that my body doesn’t work like ANYONE else’s body does!), or by estimating the calories on the basis of the weight of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the food.  Hang on.  Estimates?  People are making decisions about how much to eat on the basis of this information.  I want actual figures thank you very much.  And anyway… won’t one sort of carbohydrate burn differently than another type of carbohydrate?  Calories are inherently garbage and should be ignored.  Entirely.

No

So, yes, needless to say I am a little hot under the collar about all this calorie garbage.  I know it is fashionable to use calories to dictate your food intake.  But proper nutrition is about more than the number of calories in and the number of calories you use.  Whilst I agree that there needs to be a deficit of calories in order to lose weight, just ensuring that you get 1700 calories a day is not a sure fire success guide to weight loss.  If it was, I would look very different.

vegetables

No, proper nutrition is about using your noggin, using your own knowledge and working out what works for you.  For example, I know that for me, fat is rarely the issue.  Usually the problem is more likely to be sugar.  Hey, I am pre-diabetic and have been for 2 decades now, so that isn’t too weird.  It is almost to be expected.  So, I take very careful note of the sugar content of low fat foods.  Quite often food manufacturers will take out fat and add in sugar in order to make them taste better.  Sneaky swines that they are.  I also know that my body likes to have fruit and vegetables.  My body objects to having too much bread and yeasty or malty things in there too.  So, in the end, I eat a healthy and nutritious diet because I know what my body likes and what it doesn’t.  It is pretty simple when you get right down to it, isn’t it?

calories meme

But calories?  No.  Calories are a measurement used by scientists and they have no relation to eating properly or not eating properly.

No I have got that off my chest, perhaps I can get on with my lesson and answering the questions properly?  Here’s hoping anyway!

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Just a spoonful of sugar…

Well, it would be okay if it was JUST a spoonful of sugar, but according to today’s media, it isn’t.  In fact, a contributing factor in the rise of obesity is that sugar is hidden everywhere, in lots of the things we eat and drink, thinking they are healthy for us or they are an acceptable occasional treat.  Here is a link to one article, but to be fair, it is EVERYWHERE today.  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/09/obesity-campaign-cut-sugar-processed-foods  They are even saying it is as dangerous and as addictive tobacco.

from the Daily Mail

from the Daily Mail

There is a new group of high profile of scientists and doctors who have launched a group called Action on Sugar.  They are campaigning for the food companies to reduce the amount of sugar that is in everyday products, like the soup, like cereals, like soft drinks.  A similar group had great success with the campaign to reduce salt in food.  Apparently, if the food manufacturers reduce the sugar slowly, then people won’t notice.  Our taste buds will adapt themselves.

Sugar causes more problems than just extra calories, leading to excess weight.  We all know that sugar causes tooth decay, but eating a lot of sugar in childhood increases the risk of those children developing fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes later on in life.  In fact, some of the scare stories in the tabloids have stated that there are more children developing these before adolescence.  If you take in a lot of sugar, in any form, you can build insulin resistance and that means you are on the path to getting type 2 Diabetes, unless you change your diet.  It is sometimes called Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X.  Insulin Resistance means losing weight is INCREDIBLY difficult, among other things.

from Ocado.com website

from Ocado.com website

I was horrified to learn that there is the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar in Heinz Tomato Soup.  Good grief.  When I make tomato soup from scratch, no sugar enters the mix.  No wonder my soup tastes different, despite my best efforts.  Needless to say, sugar will NOT feature in my recipe going forward.  I do not need to eat any more calories!

So sugar is scary, and addictive, and the fact there is so much sugar in manufactured foods means that they need to reduce the amount they use.  Okay.  I can understand that argument.  I have a slightly more radical suggestion though.  Why don’t we eat food which hasn’t been manufactured?

ggrandmother food

If you eat food which your Great Grandmother would have recognised as food, then chances are you will be eating well.  You will probably also be eating fewer calories. Fewer calories in (and more calories out when you are chopping stuff up and moving around the kitchen) means you will lose weight, or at least not put more weight on. Eating fresh fruit instead of milk chocolate, eating salads instead of chips/French fries, eating butter instead of margarines and other manufactured spreads  – it has got to be better for you.  I am not saying you can’t eat chips.  You can.  Just make them yourself and bake them in the oven.  Delicious!

I know, from personal experience, it is not as easy as that.  I have struggled for years with obesity, and at the moment, I am considered by the medical community to be morbidly obese.  That is down to my Body Mass Index calculation, and that is another argument for another blog post, but still, I know I am overweight and I need to lose a significant amount of it.  The way I am doing it, is to cook from fresh, reduce my portions, increase my exercise and count my calories.   It will be a long road, but the destination will be worth it.

What one change can you make to your diet to reduce the amount of sugar you are consuming?