To start, I want to first help you understand what the word “calorie” actually means. The term is often thrown around as though it is some evil creator living inside our closets making our clothes smaller at night. But yet again the diet/health industry has created a stigma to drive sales of low calorie food products, fat burning supplements, counting calorie diets and more.
A calorie is actually a term to define the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 degree Celsius. Aka, to really simplify this... calories = energy. How does this apply to eating calories and “burning” calories? When food is referred to as having 100 calories, that simply means how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it. The calories burned by our body are referred to as kilocalories (kcal) and simply refers to the energy our body used to complete that activity/exercise.
So now that we have what the term actually means clarified, let’s look at how silly it is to become married to the concept of measuring calories as ruling your day to day.
Without fueling our bodies we would slowly start to shut down. We know this and have all felt the energy lows when it’s been a long crazy day and you haven’t gotten to eat. Without fuel/energy/calories nothing works. It’s the equivalent to filling our gas tanks. But just as not all fuel is the same neither are calories. Not all calories are equal. This is when looking at where the calories are coming from matter more than the number alone. For example; a 400 calorie burger is not the same as a 400 calorie salad to your body. That’s because we can’t just simplify food into numerical categories. We have to look at how our body can digest and absorb the food to be able to use it as a fuel source.
When can calories be useful? They have their place to help learn energy input versus output. Learning how much we intake and how much we output is extremely important but should not be your lifelong battle. In Un-Diet we encourage learning your body before even considering these numbers in a sense of hunger and fullness. Becoming more aware and in-tune with this is far more important than counting calories in the long run because as long as you are married to a number you will never truly be learning your body. In the book we talk about how our body’s ability to tell us when we are hungry and full is actually designed to keep us eating the right amounts and of what. Cravings generally are indicators we are lacking nutrients and most of us have broken “sensors” from continual overeating over time. So, step 1: is resetting, step 2: is re-learning our bodies step 3: is listening to our bodies. Shift your focus onto WHAT you are eating versus eating what you want for a particular number of calories.
Want to learn more? Start reading Un-Diet today.