I know how intimating the numbers can be. When we walk into the market or read menus, it suddenly becomes a numbers game. When we put a number on foods, we can easily overlook the importance of why we eat certain foods to begin with. Calories do matter, but they aren’t equal. Eating more or less calories than what each of us requires, can affect the way our body responds. Whether that’s in pounds on the scale or various physiological functions. They are not evil, conversely, consuming enough calories is necessary.
When we approach the market, we may become overwhelmed by food labels. They can be difficult to understand. The important thing to remember is that the source of calories is more significant than the actual number. When we compare 100 g of dates vs one cookie, dates tend to have a higher caloric value. The good thing about consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables, are the fiber content and their nutrient density. Fiber has many valuable functions; for instance, keeping you regular and stabilizing your blood sugar. On the other hand, cookies are high in sugar and have a small nutrient content. Because of the effects cookies have on our blood sugar, we tend to feel less satisfied and eat more frequently. Even though dates have more calories per serving, they pack a huge nutritious punch.
When you are reading food labels, if you do, try not to focus so much on the number. Look at saturated fats, cholesterol, sugars, vitamins and minerals, etc. Also, lots of restaurants are putting the amount of calories for food items on their menus. When we look at these numbers, it can be overwhelming and confusing as well. To help with this, think about your standard 2,000 calorie diet. If you have 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, you can gauge how many calories you should consume (Everyone’s needs are different. Not everyone will need exactly 2,000 cal. This is just a baseline for understanding). If you have about 600 cal per meal, then you’ll reach 1800. With 2 snacks at 100 calories each. Thus, you will have reached 2,000 calories. Again, this is not the golden rule. There will be those who require way more and those who don’t need as much. The goal is to nourish our bodies, so that we can perform at our best mental and physical capacity. I know it can be scary to think about all of the calories that we actually require. It seems wrong because we are told to cut calories constantly. The reality is, that just doesn’t get us anywhere unless we are advised by professionals to do so.
We all love food, so just enjoy it. Try not to obsess over the numbers and focus more on mindful eating. At the end of the day, our body has certain requirements and we can’t try to trick it.