Calorie Counting: Is it for me?? By: Cathy Falk, B.A., Holistic Nutritionist

February 13, 2015 |

Whenever I meet a client who wants to lose weight the first thing that comes to their mind is, I need to count calories.  This task itself can stress you out!  It is one more thing that you have to do in your already very busy day.  How many of you start your day with the great intention of logging into MyFitnessPal to record your meals for the day?  You log your breakfast, morning snack, maybe lunch and then you forget to do it the rest of the day.  By the time bedtime comes you have most likely forgotten what you have eaten and in what quantity. You may also cheat yourself by saying, “Oh that piece of chocolate that I caved into has too many calories, I won’t add that today.”  You go to bed saying I will start again tomorrow, but the same vicious cycle exists.
Weight loss programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig focus on calories going in(food) and calories going out(exercise). Many people are successful at losing weight on these programs as it keeps them accountable for the amount of food going into their bodies.
What these calorie restricted plans don’t focus on is the quality of food that you are consuming and whether your body is assimilating that food and using it effectively for fuel. 
Both programs approve prepackaged processed artificial foods as part of your daily diet.  These processed foods are usually void of nutrients and contain harmful artificial ingredients like aspartame, preservatives, nitrates.  They are marketed as low calorie foods to replace high calorie, high fat foods like nuts.  There is no thought into what is actually in these processed foods.  Effective marketing and labeling makes consumers focus more attention on quantity not quality. 
There are a myriad of reasons to base your food choices on quality rather than calorie content.
Let’s look at butter.  Butter is one of the most controversial foods out there. Dietician’s will tell you to eliminate saturated fats from your diet because they are a fat, cause heart disease and are caloric. They will recommend a margarine product that is completely artificial, lower in calories and full of chemicals. Now if you are strictly counting calories this food may look pretty good. If you want to make healthy choices and properly fuel your body, the grass fed butter will be your better choice. Grass fed butter is 100% natural, promotes intestinal health, helps absorption of calcium, raises level of HDL(good cholesterol), contains Butyric acid that helps fight inflammation and is full of Vitamins A, D, E, K and K2.   Now which one would you choose.
When looking at MyFitnessPal I see too many times people eating egg whites to save a few calories and fat.  By eliminating the egg yolk you are missing out on essential vitamins (A, D, E, K, B complex), Omega 3’s(flax fed chickens) and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, biotin, selenium, manganese.  Whole eggs are great source of protein and essential fats.
Remember that foods that are in their most natural form are the best sources of energy for your body. Your body will use this fuel more efficiently then something that is processed.
Counting calories doesn’t consider your food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, autoimmune issues, thyroid issues, digestive issues or your body type.  These are all factors into reaching your ideal weight and your optimal health. 
If you are solely counting calories but you have low thyroid function, you can eat as few calories as you want and you still may not lose weight. Certain foods may be detrimental to your thyroid. Eating whole natural foods that support your thyroid and your body can help you lose weight.
Counting calories can prevent a genuine relationship with food.  Your eating shifts from how you eat to how much you eat.  It ultimately prevents a harmonious relationship with food.  It sets you up to have an apprehension about food.
So should you still count calories? 
Yes, if it makes you accountable for what you are eating throughout the day and it is helping you with your weight loss journey. 
No, if it makes you consistently choose low calorie, nutrient-void foods to achieve a goal of eating more for fewer calories instead of the full fat whole foods that nature intended you to eat.
In the end think about your nutrition goals and how you want to get there.  Are your goals short term (I need to lose 10 pounds) or is this truly a lifestyle change for you?  Are you healthier being 10 pounds lighter but still feel tired and bloated, have constant joint pain or are hormonally imbalanced. Then maybe counting calories is not working for you and you need to look at what is making your body out of balance.
If you need help reaching your nutrition goals and know something needs to change but don’t know where to start then contact us to start your wellness journey.
Healthy Regards,
Cathy Falk
B.A. Holistic Nutritionist

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