Who Taught You to Be Afraid of Calories?
Why are Americans so afraid of calories? Better yet, why are Americans so hung up on counting calories?
Since the 80’s, when diet culture and the health & fitness industry exploded, Americans have been concerned with consuming “too many calories”, the latest fad diet to get in shape and going to extreme measures just to fit an unrealistic, unsustainable and unhealthy image (for both men and women).
But what if I told you that was all nonsense and a marketing ploy to play on your insecurities and make you believe something is wrong with you, to sell you more things you don’t need.
Because guess what? Calories are actually good for you. Yup you heard right.
Yes, calories are good for you, but it’s important to note that not all calories are created equal. And unfortunately, the emphasis on counting calories, the diet culture and unqualified people spreading misinformation, has created a society who are afraid to eat the very thing that helps keep them alive….FOOD.
This idea that you should be afraid of food has caused unnecessary anxiety surrounding food that has been linked to eating disorders, body dysmorphia and other psychological disorders, and sometimes even death by suicide due to the pressures to live up to a false image.
So let’s get into the lies you’ve been led to believe about calories and why you need to stop believing them NOW so you can reach your health and fitness goals in a more healthy and sustainable manner.
No crazy dieting, calorie counting or restrictions necessary.
Did You Know?
Calorie counters and fitness trackers like MyFitnessPal and AppleWatch, are inaccurate and leave room for error as much as 20-30%.
The FDA even allows up to 20% inaccuracies on food labels. So what you see on the back of food labels isn’t completely accurate. We also don’t absorb all the calories we consume either.
So why waste your time counting something that is a pain to keep up with, not sustainable but is also misleading?
That’s why I wanted to share with you the 3 most common lies about calories you’ve been told, so you can get off the diet hamster wheel, stop counting calories and start enjoying food again without the guilt and shame.
3 Lies About Calories You Need to Stop Believing Now
Lie #1: Calories are bad for you
Calories = a unit of energy. That’s it! A very important source of energy that our body needs to stay alive I might add. Everything in our body – brain, muscles and cells – requires energy, and we can’t function or go far without it.
Think of your body as a vehicle and food as your fuel. If you’re not giving your body the gas it needs, it won’t go far or run properly. And people wonder why they never have any energy throughout the day. Because they’re not eating enough energy!
When most of my clients initially start working with me, they are confused and afraid to eat because of all the lies they’ve been told from the health & fitness industry, including some traditional doctors who have little knowledge on Nutrition and how food impacts the body; which is a whole discussion for another day.
As I stated earlier, calories are good for you, you need them to survive, but not all calories are created equal. So when you think about calories, think about the quality of calories you’re consuming. The idea is to consume nutrient-dense foods loaded with vitamins and minerals (fruits, vegetables, quality meats) rather than nutrient-lacking (sodas, chips, fast food) that don’t provide any nutritional value.
Carbs (glucose), which is our main source of energy, are your friend too, so no need to be afraid of those either! Again, think quality.
Lie #2: You need to restrict your caloric intake to lose weight– Lie!
There’s no need to restrict your caloric intake to lose or maintain weight. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, think quality vs quantity because not all calories are created equal.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the old and outdated adage: eat less, move more that most doctors have been prescribing for years and are still prescribing til this day. Well, if that were the solution, we’d have a lot more healthier people walking around. Unfortunately, that doesn’t encapsulate the whole picture as it pertains to losing or managing your weight.
One of my mottos is actually the complete opposite of that: “Eat More, Workout Less.” ~Jennifer Jones.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t workout and move your body, because obviously that’s important too. It’s because I understand the role food plays when it comes to our bodies and metabolism, and working out is only 5-10% of the whole equation.
I am proof and my clients are proof that you can lose/maintain your weight just by changing your nutritional (behavioral and lifestyle) choices alone. So the outdated adage of “calories in/calories out”, that you have to restrict your calories and eat less than you “burn” is not completely accurate.
The more you move (workout), the more calories (energy) you need. So on the days you are more active, it’s ok and beneficial to eat a little more than you would on the days you are less active. This is done by practicing intentional/mindful eating.
Again, think about the quality of calories.
2,000 calories of nutrient-dense foods is not the same as 2,000 calories of nutrient-lacking foods.
One is providing you with quality calories -fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein – to help you lose/maintain your weight, while the other will provide you with poor quality calories – high fat, high sugar, harmful additives- that will make you gain weight.
Also, greatly reducing your caloric intake is actually harmful because your body is not getting the adequate amount of calories (energy) it needs for your metabolism to run properly, nor is it getting a variety of nutrients which could lead to health problems down the road.
Which brings me to the third lie about calories you should know about.
Lie #3: Calories will make you gain weight
This is also a lie and goes back to my point that not all calories are created equal and the calories in vs. calories out approach is outdated.
If you’re eating empty, poor quality calories (nutrient-lacking), high in fat, sugar and artificial preservatives then yes, you will gain weight and also increase your chances of developing a chronic disease such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease.
When you’re eating high quality calories (nutrient-dense), whole foods, fruits, vegetables and quality protein, you can naturally manage your weight and your chances of developing a chronic disease like obesity or diabetes is decreased.
I’ve gone six years without counting calories and it’s the best decision I ever made to stop. I haven’t gained any weight and have been able to maintain my shape without working out like crazy like I used to when I was competing regularly and a bodybuilder. I’ve experienced the power of not counting calories and instead focused on giving my body good quality, nourishing foods to help it help me. Because when you take care of the inside, the outside will take care of itself.
At the end of the day
Food is your friend.
So here are 4 things you can do instead of worrying about counting calories:
- Love & give thanks for your body
- Practice portion control
- Listen to Your Body; Eat intuitively
- Eat real, whole foods that don’t require a food label
Loving your body as it is and all that it does for you, portion control, incorporating more whole real foods (foods that don’t have a food label) and reducing poor quality foods that have no nutritional value are the first steps to gaining better control of your eating habits and stopping the calorie/food anxiety.
If you’re struggling with your eating habits and want to create a healthier relationship with food, start with changing your mindset & approach to your health first. Get off of the fad diet, counting calories hamster wheel, because as it continues to prove, is not the best approach for long-term health & happiness.
It is my hope that you now have a better understanding of what calories are, why they’re not bad for you and why you need them.
If you found this helpful and are ready to develop better eating habits so you can get the results you want without counting calories or the crazy restrictions, make sure you grab my 90-Day Holistic Nutrition Food Guide.
In 90 days you will confidently know:
- How to properly fuel your body the nourishing foods it needs
- Become more mindful and stop using food as a coping mechanism (emotional eating)
- Identify any food sensitivities or deficiencies that’s hindering you from achieving your health and fitness goals.
Click the button below to grab your copy!
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