It's just past dinnertime. How many of you are now logging your dinner into a calorie counting app and analyzing your calories in vs. calories out? Maybe you don't hit "Complete Entry" yet because you'll do some cardio after your dinner settles, and maybe that'll buy you some dessert later. You'll log all of that, too.
Recently, I decided to look back through old logs to analyze my old eating habits and patterns. A few years ago, I was working at a stressful, nearly commission-only job. I was running to relieve the stress, and I was pretty skinny (for me). I wouldn't say I was healthy by any means. Here is what one Friday's log looked like:
Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Minis, 3 count
Frozen Yogurt - Pomegranate, 1/2 cup
Frozen Yogurt - Pineapple, 1/2 cup
Fruit - Pineapple, Strawberries, Mangoes
Chicken & Cheese Sliders (Self Magazine Recipe)
Vodka - 6 fl. oz.
Fast food, a bowl of sugar disguised as a healthy dessert that I decided was lunch, and an allegedly "healthy" dinner (say the experts at Self Magazine). Oh, and vodka. Because stress. Knowing that I ran that day and ate roughly 1500 calories, I was probably pretty proud of myself for fitting all of that deliciousness into my day and still keeping my calories in check.
Despite what we were all taught growing up, it isn't just about calories in, calories out! That research has been debunked in several ways (see here, here, here, and here). I love science. I love that humans have been trying to figure things out for so long, yet there is still so much to discover! We need to accept the fact that we don't know everything, be skeptical of what we assume are facts, and also be a little skeptical of new research. Remember that numerous scientists proclaimed the Earth to be round before it was considered common knowledge.
Even if you lose weight by counting calories, you aren't necessarily getting healthier. We now know that to truly better your health, you have to do something besides count calories and exercise. If you care about preventing disease, preventing inflammation, and giving your body what it needs to properly function, you have to think differently. You have to focus on nutrient density. You need amino acids, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and yes...wait for it...even carbohydrates.
So log your meals, but please quit counting calories. Eat a wide variety of colorful plants. Realize you are getting protein from sources other than just meat. If you are craving sugar, eat a piece of fruit, but know that once you have been eating like this for a while, your cravings will disappear. More than anything, though, question what you think you know about the food you're eating. What you learned in your last nutrition class may not line up with the latest research. No, I am not a doctor or nutritionist, but I do stay up-to-date on the latest research and will always cite my sources (and my lunches aren't provided by pharmaceutical reps). Follow me, and I will help you stay in the know. I will give you delicious, healthy recipes you can easily make at home. Stay tuned.
Hugs & Quiches!