Monday, 20 October 2014

Calories Misunderstood

Calories….calories….calories. We see it everywhere now. If you count your calories or not, it is something we see on all our food packaging and now even on the menu when we go out for a meal. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, we should be aware of how much we eat and drink. But I find that it is a problem when we become obsessed with the figures.

It is recommended to only consume 2,000kcals/day for women and 2,500kcals for men (NHS UK). This is on average figure which should be adapted according to your age, weight and level of physical activity. For example if you are a petit, less active individual you will probably not need the full 2000kcals allowance, if you did you will probably gain weight.

I get many people saying that, “OMG! This contains 105 calories, I’m not eating that!” Do you want to know what they are talking about….a banana! A piece of fruit, which is healthy and nutritious and good for you, it contains beneficial essential vitamins and minerals that the body actually needs to function. It only becomes a problem when you have too much of one type of food. Like a diet with only fruit and vegetables is not good because your body needs other forms of energy, protein to build/repair muscle and dairy for the skin, bones, teeth, hair and nails.

On the other hand, a pot of jelly will only be about 30 kcals, a third of the banana, but what is the jelly made up of? A banana is more natural, organic and the way God intended, whereas the jelly is manmade and filled with many other ingredients, even though the bulk of it is water, like sugar, gelling agents, colour, flavourings.

Understand that calories is energy so, you should not nit-pick the amount of calories a food contains. Look at the overall picture, yes we have been told to only eat a certain number of calories a day, 2,000kcals for women and 2400kcals for men, but this is just a guideline for an average adult who wants to maintain their weight.

Calories should be used as a guideline. Look at exactly what you are eating; what does it contain, what are the ingredients, where is the calorie quantity or energy coming from? One tip I always gibe to my clients when reading food labels is to look at the ingredient list; what are the first 3 ingredients, that’s what makes the bulk of that product. As by law they have to be listed as per with the highest weight/amount first.

You may want to look at calories more if you want to lose or gain weight. But I’ll say it again use it as a guideline. Look at the root of what you are eating first. Is your overall diet balanced? Does it include all the five food groups? Is it helping your body to function efficiently? Remember calories are energy; just make sure it is the right type of energy for your body? Not the fat and sugar but the wholesome whole grains, protein and fruit/vegetables.

Be Happy! Be Healthy!

By Ayshabibi H.
A H Nutritionist
20th October 2014

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