To count or not to count, that is the age-old question. And since the 1950s, millions of people have looked to calorie counting as the answer to a healthy lifestyle.
But is it really the best answer? We don’t think so.
If you’ve ever ordered Model Meals before, you know that we don’t include calories on our packages. That’s because we believe that choosing the right food is way more important than counting the calories in that food. We also know that there’s a difference in the way your body will use 500 calories worth of broccoli vs 500 calories worth of chocolate cake (even though chocolate cake is delicious).
We’re also speaking from experience… that’s right, we’ve calorie counted too! And after years of obsessing with calories in vs calories out, we’ve found that getting back to trusting your body's natural cues is the most effective way towards optimal health. When you get back to eating real, whole foods, your body regulates for you naturally.
It’s also important to remember that your body uses calories and nutrients to function, so depriving yourself will only cause harm.
We’re not the only ones who avoid calorie counting. According to Registered Dietitian, Abby Langer, “the thought of anyone counting calories, aka the energy you get from what you eat and drink, causes me to sigh audibly. Counting calories is a time-consuming, soul-sucking practice that’s actually a lesson in futility, as far as I’m concerned.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
On top of that, a new study published in JAMA highlighted the importance of focusing on whole foods over calorie counting in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University suggests that “health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages.”
It goes beyond dietitians and doctors as well. New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Bailor has done research on calorie counting and says, “Depriving our bodies of calories, it turns out, only tends to slow down our metabolism.” So not only does counting calories hurt our mental state, it can also hurt our bodies and do the opposite of what we want it to do in the first place.
So if calorie counting isn’t the answer, what is?
Well if you’re asking us… the answer is REAL FOOD!
What do we mean by that? It’s simple really. Sticking to real food means eating things that are as natural as possible and staying away from processed or refined food.
If you can eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, you’ll be fueling your body with more nutritional value than eating foods that have been modified. That’s why vegetables, fruits, and proteins are such an important part of the whole food lifestyle.
The proof is in the research. Dr. David Katz of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and his colleague Stephanie Meller have been studying the effects of different types of food, and have published their findings that a lifestyle with “minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention."
It’s not just about your physical health either. When you stop obsessing about numbers and calories and start focusing on real nutrition, you’ll also be taking care of your mental health. Counting calories and feeling guilty about eating can lead to a negative relationship with food and can hinder your progress in creating a healthy and balanced life.
Food is what powers our bodies and minds. So don’t deprive yourself of the fuel you need to do all the amazing things you want to do. Just keep it simple, and remember the importance and benefits of eating whole foods.
Your body will be thanking you for the real food you’re eating AND the time you’re saving not having to count every calorie you’ve consumed. ENJOY! 💛