How important are calories?
A lot of us start paying attention to our health every New Year’s Eve. Maybe, you are determined to lose a certain amount of weight or take the steps to resolve a health issue that’s been plaguing you. Or perhaps the resolution was more general: you simply wanted to be better to your body this year.
In recent times, it has become increasingly important to pay attention to our meals and eating habits; to truly and consciously know what we put in our body.
This practice is called Mindful Eating.
Mindful eating makes us watchful about what we eat, it aims to transform our relationship with food by focusing on the hows and whys of eating, encouraging a more holistic point of view. We have a chance to understand what foods nourish us. And what foods help us stay healthy; while also encouraging a deeper appreciation of every meal, every mouthful, and every ingredient.
Every morsel is accounted for. Every ingredient, its nutritional value and its effect on us is supervised.
One such nutritional value that we have repeatedly heard of is a Calorie.
A calorie is often associated in the light of negativity. But is calorie truly the bad guy? How does it affect our body? How many are too many?
A calorie, simply put, is the basic fuel source that is needed to carry out and perform any and all functions in the body. Everything, from moving a muscle to performing a certain action, to carrying out an observation or carrying out the action of thinking might-fully, takes a certain amount of calories in order to execute and perform that action.
Even experiencing a feeling more deeply and profoundly than just a superficial, and shallow sensation requires calories to burn as fuel. A Calorie is accountable for every single action and event in the body or consciousness or psyche to take place in the properly efficient and sufficiently executed manner.
So what is a good calorie and a bad calorie? Or is it just calorie?
The human body is a highly complex biochemical system with elaborate processes that regulate energy balance. Different foods go through different biochemical pathways, some of which are inefficient and cause energy (calories) to be lost as heat. What’s more important is the fact that different foods & macronutrients have a major effect on the hormones and brain centers that control hunger and eating behaviour. The foods we eat can have a big impact on the biological processes that control when, what and how much you eat. Different types of foods have different effects on your body, affecting your body composition and athletic performance - A chocolate bar and an avocado may have roughly the same number of calories, but their effect on your body is going to be hugely different.
200 Calories of different foods can be VERY different. Candies and processed foods are engineered with the perfect bliss point to make you eat (and buy) more. Look at the differences in micronutrients – there is no contest between the vegetable and the candy. Most importantly, look at your energy levels, how do YOU feel after eating it?
We believe that moderation is key and personal enjoyment for the food you’re eating is important.
This doesn’t mean you need to restrict everything you eat and ‘eat clean’. We believe that having a chocolate bar in a day of well-balanced meals and adequate micronutrients doesn’t make that diet ‘unhealthy’.
So, if we like the idea of monitoring our food intake, but we don’t love the idea of counting calories and macro, how are we supposed to eat? By focusing on the right KINDS of food.
Macronutrients include Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fat. So instead of focusing on counting calories, focus on monitoring Macros intake. Let’s put more focus on eating whole foods, rich in macro and micronutrients. The type of food that'll fill you up, without being jammed packed full of calories. The type of food that makes you feel full, but not awful.
So, when we eat carbs, they’re coming from healthy sources, not cans of soda.
Instead of counting calories, try this - every meal needs to have 1-2 vegetables on the plate (or about half your plate), and a big protein source. Keep the grains and starches to a minimum, and mindfully eat until you’re satisfied. Add more vegetables and protein when hungry.
Do some investigative work and track your calories for a few days to see how you’re doing, possibly including your macronutrients. Try and make a note of what proper portion sizes of each meal should look like, as well as how the total amount of food for the day feels. Our body is a complex machinery, and although a calorie might make a simple equation for weight loss, every other factor of “healthy” can be affected by the quality and nutritional makeup of that calorie.
Cut Back not OUT.
A calorie is an important factor that fuels our body and cutting out on them only seems unnatural. We strongly believe that mindful eating is the right way around healthy life. Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up any food you love. It is about experiencing your food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. Eating and drinking is not just a primary need, but a full-fledged lifestyle. What we eat and drink is often a conscious choice that balances our nutritional, mental and emotional state.
So here’s to a lifestyle of conscious indulgence.