While calories are important, they’re not everything.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: time and time again, when I see an individual who focuses solely on calories in their diet, I see a diet devoid of nutrition. Those nutrient deficiencies, in turn, then contribute to weight gain and/or weight stagnation. With a ton of emphasis by fad diets, news media and everywhere in between to focus on calories, nutrition has been lost in the fine print. Look beyond calories to what a food can offer you.
An example many can understand: pain sucks. Headaches, migraines, joint pain, muscle pain, abdominal pain, you name it and it sucks. Did you know that nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce pain? Did you know that the majority of Americans are deficient in all three nutrients? Seeing calorie dense avocados, nuts and healthy oils in a whole new light?
Another pitfall of only focusing on calories: eating too much processed foods. Since the invention of the nutrition facts panel a lot has happened. The good news, people started taking a closer look at what’s in their food and using actual facts to make food choices with. The bad news, nutrition fact panels are not naturally occurring. Peaches don’t come with their calorie content imprinted on their peel. Broccoli can’t tell you that it only contains about 40 calories per cup and is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, B vitamins, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re only looking at the caloric value of a food you’re missing 90% of the show. You’re not looking at what else is or is not in the food. After the nutrition facts panel comes the list of ingredients. Grab any 5 products out of your cabinet and scroll the ingredient list. Do you know what everything in the food is, how that ingredient is made and where/what it is derived?
While I do not label foods as good or bad, there are clearly some that are better choices than others. Processed foods can make life easier. However, a diet that is primarily composed of processed foods in order to cut calories can cause nutritional problems. Every time you eat is an opportunity for nutrition. Ask yourself what your food as to offer each time you eat and you will soon see your health and weight improve. It's not the calories in food, but the nutrition within those calories.