BEFORE YOU READ THIS POST, READ THIS:
Anything you do to reach/maintain a healthy body weight is fine by me.
(Obviously, someone who manages his/her weight through anorexia or bulimia is not doing themselves any good in my book. If you are anorexic or bulimic, please get professional help. You are killing yourself.)
If you are a calorie/point counter and it works for you, more power to you. This post contains my own personal reflexions on what calorie (or point) counting says about food, nutrition and the world we choose to live in.
I have hesitated greatly in posting this because I really do not want to insult any of my favourite bloggers who are staunch calorie counters and extremely successful weight-loss warriors (you know who you are!). I do not have the same "message of hope" that successful weight-loss bloggers communicate. So who am I to ask questions when I don't have a successful strategy to counter with? However, I think that self-censorship is a slippery and dangerous slope. This blog, like all others, was created as a forum for my own personal reflexions and to share with other people on similar journeys.
I am very curious about the number of calories I burn in a day. I suspect that even on a 10,000 step day, I don't burn that much because I can't engage in strenuous exercise (aside from the pool). I just visited the Bodybugg site and saw that their system works by measuring (hopefully relatively accurately) the number of calories expended, and requiring that you count the number of calories ingested. This got me thinking yet again about calorie counting.
Some of these foods I ate this week came in packages with the calorie content listed. For anything eaten in a local, non-chain restaurant, the calorie content was unknown. I would have had to have brought my food scale and visited the kitchen to see exactly how the food was cooked. Some homemade dishes contained a number of ingredients, so it would have taken some time and energy to do the research and establish the caloric value.
The easiest way to eat when you calorie count appears to me to use pre-packaged foods or basic foodstuffs without any adornment or to eat in chain restaurants. For instance, my fairly healthy spaghetti sauce becomes a calorie-counting nightmare due to the variety of foods used in its preparation. I would have to count the calories in each ingredient, then weigh the whole pot and divide it into let's say 1/2 cup servings in order to establish an approximate caloric value per serving. Wouldn't it just be easier to go to the store, buy a simple bottle of sauce and forgo the fresh vegetables and the splash of olive oil, despite the clear nutritional value they offer?
And am I better off eating at a chain restaurant where the quality of the food is clearly lower than at my local restaurant just because chain restaurants tell you how many calories are in the mass-produced dishes that they serve?
And what about the extraordinary lamb ossobucco that I learnt to make at a cooking class recently? No calorie count there, just fresh ingredients, lovingly crafted into a dish to die for. Definitely off the list because I can't tell you how many calories a serving contains.
What disturbs me is that calorie and point counting require you to limit your food to products that are either pre-packaged or easily quantifiable. It discourages adventure and curiosity and tends to limit one's food choices to that which is safely and easily identifiable. And maybe that's a positive thing for many people. But not for me.
I just have to wonder: Does calorie counting mean you restrict yourself to what's "countable"? Does calorie counting better suit those who don't have an adventurous palate? Do you find yourself saying no to foods that you can't find on the WW's list or from a calorie counter? Just curious.