Calorie Counting

Calorie counting is exactly what it says, counting the number of calories in food. Some of us do this for interest. Some because we have been told how many calories we need and want to maintain, gain or lose weight.

  • 1g of fat is 9 calories
  • 1g of protein is 4 calories
  • 1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories
  • 1g of alcohol is 7 calories

There are lots of apps which help us calorie count or we can do it manually. The question is, does it help?

I would suggest no! I don’t know about you but I love food. I love to explore different cuisines, textures, flavours and colours. I don’t want to have to do maths at mealtimes. I don’t want to feel guilty about eating.

So what do I suggest as an alternative? Think about the foods you put on your plate rather than the numbers.

When I plan a meal I start with which vegetables I am going to have. I then build from there, making sure I have protein and carbohydrate too. Portions are important so start with the portions of vegetables and work from there. I find that I’m full much more quickly that way. I then also get the bonus of fibre (for gut health and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer), and vitamins and minerals for loads of different bodily functions and reducing my risk of ill health.

Let me give you an example. I had aubergine, courgette and chickpea curry tonight. I made sure I had at least 180g of vegetables per person in my curry. I then used half a tin of chickpeas per person too (that’s 8g of protein and 8g of fibre per person from the chickpeas). I served it with rice. My plate was about 2/3 curry and 1/3 rice. I was full and I got lots of nutritional value from my meal as well as enjoyment. Did I calorie count? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would it help me lose weight if I needed to? Well it depends on the portion and my energy needs for the day.

You might be asking why I didn’t count the calories. Well, if I was having too many, I would gain weight. If I did, and didn’t want to, I could decrease my portion size, increase my vegetable consumption, check I’m getting enough sleep and exercise, and look after my mental health. It’s far more complex than calorie counting and personally, I would rather not calorie count and feel depressed about it if I don’t really need to.

Disclaimer – this is not personalised dietary advice. If you are needing to lose weight for health reasons, please speak to a health professional about your own needs and how to do it safely.

If you feel you have become fixated on calories, please seek help. We don’t want calories to rule our lives.

Published by porternutrition

I am a freelance Registered Nutritionist with NHS, charity and private sector experience. My passion is for improving health without breaking the bank and spending hours chained to the kitchen. I work with all ages but have specific focus on the youngest of the community as they start their food journey.

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