This post may be the first in a series that dives into my own philosophies of healthy eating, balance, etc. – sparked by some recent reads, and a craving for good conversation.
As a college student, there was a time when I could’ve told you – at any point in the day – approximately how many calories I had had up to that minute. I only avoid using the word exactly because I was a Dining Hall dependent for two years; we had nutritional information available for most, but not all, foods.
I tallied things in my head, without really having to think. I knew in, out, over and under. I thought I was being “healthy”, keeping things in check! After being in school for a few months, I stepped on a scale for the first time in as many weeks, and was honestly shocked to see a lower number. But, that was just the beginning.
It took a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition, another year of “interning”, running, and a lot of personal experience to finally crawl out of that all-consuming mindset. Three years later, the only time I think about numbers is when it really matters – endurance training and refueling those muscles adequately.
Numbers won’t tell you everything
Recently, the Washington Post published a series of photos depicting the results of a study – Some foods help shed the pounds, others help pack them on. Years ago, Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls released the Volumetrics Diet, focused on eating nutrient dense foods, nothing off limits but with portions in mind. Following the health-praised Mediterranean “diet” allows for high healthy-fat oils, nuts, seeds and cheeses, with a focus on moderation, not numbers.
All of these diets/philosophies/call-them-what-you-will have stood the test of time; they’re not going anywhere because they stand on solid ground instead of balancing on a trend.
The Harvard School of Public Health listed these foods as helpful pound “shedders” – yogurt, whole grains (high fiber), fruits / vegetables (duh), and nuts. But more than that, they are full of nutrients and affordable. These are foods you find in any grocery store, we’re not shining light on anything new, “super” or trendy.
I stand firmly behind the philosophy that healthy eating behaviors can ignore the numbers almost entirely – eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, fill your plate with a variety of colors and macro-nutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates), and be mindful of portions. Think about what your food has, not what it’s “free” of.
I’m not saying calorie counting isn’t effective in weight-loss practices and counseling, it definitely can be. I am saying I believe there are different ways to go about it, and lifelong weight maintenance doesn’t have to be number-bound. I believe that my mindset now is much healthier, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, for the conversation – what do you think about the calorie-counting game? You certainly don’t have to say whether you “do or don’t” – not important, here. Check out the links above, and put in your two – or ten – cents.
What are your go-to foods for a dose of nutrients, a satisfied “full feeling”, and/or a favorite snack, or meal?