I can already hear the buts forming in your head. But what about portion control? But don’t we need a certain amount of calories each day? But how will I calculate how long I need to run on the treadmill to burn off that doughnut if I don’t know how many calories are in that doughnut? As a holistic nutritionist, I'm advising you to change the way you look at food.
Calories Don't Matter — So Stop Counting Them
It doesn’t matter how many calories are in a food; what matters is the quality of that food and how nutrient-dense it is.
Here are three reasons to stop counting calories and start eating more healthfully:
1. You need to look at food for its quality, not its calorie count.
Let me put it to you this way: If I had a 100-calorie pack of Oreos in one hand and 100 calories' worth of almonds in the other, which would you say was the healthier snack?
I’m betting you automatically knew it was the almonds. Because almonds are a whole food that provide you with nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Oreos, on the other hand, are a nutrient-deficient processed food loaded with refined flours, sugars, and artificial flavors. It doesn’t matter how many calories are in a food; what matters is the quality of that food and how nutrient-dense it is.
2. Nutrient-deficient food can leave you feeling unsatisfied.
Don’t believe me? Ever eaten a junky meal of pizza and fries, and then wander over to the fridge a half-hour later because you’re still hungry? That’s because you consumed calories but none of the nutrient goodness that your body needs to thrive.
You can eat 1,500, 3,000, or 5,000 calories a day, but if you’re not getting a boost of nutrient-rich power in every bite, you won’t feel satiated and you certainly won’t feel healthy. Your body will just signal you to keep eating in the hopes that it might get the nutrients it needs.
3. Foods that don't have nutrition labels are better for you.
Instead of obsessing about the nutrition labels on the side of packages, try eating foods that don’t have nutrition labels at all. Eat more vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, fish, meat, and gluten-free whole grains. All the best foods in the world don’t even have labels on them. As soon as you focus on the nutrient-packed foods, your energy level will soar, you’ll poop regularly, you’ll feel incredible, and those calories won’t matter so much anymore.
The truth is simple: The best thing we can do for our health, and for the health of those around us, is to choose more whole, clean, sustainable, and locally produced foods. Let’s not get lost in the caloric details; instead, let's just embrace healthy and delicious choices that benefit us and the world.