"How many calories should I consume?"
This is a common question we hear during our nutritional consultations, when people are purchasing a meal at our retail store, or when they are enquiring about our delivery service.
"How many calories do the meals contain?"
This question of calories is completely understandable given the diet culture that has grown substantially over the last few decades. Somewhere along the way the myth that eating ‘1,200 calories a day’ would enable everyone to lose weight fast and effectively, came about. Sure, many people may have had success with this method. Many people have had success with all types of methods. There was a man who ate nothing but potatoes for a year and lost 110 pounds. With that being said, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution for everyone. Our bodies are all wonderful and unique ecosystems that operate in entirely different ways. If you have tried to count calories and failed miserably, we have some great news for you!
Yes, calories are a measure of how much energy certain foods contain and if you go overboard you will gain weight. With that being said, there are other elements to consider here.
Let us put this into context. In a 1 oz (28.4g) serving of cashews, there are 157 calories. In the same serving size of M&M’s, there are 151 calories. Yet, if a serving of chocolate candy provides a similar amount of energy and even fewer calories than the serving of nuts, then why don’t we all just snack on cupcakes and ice-cream every day?
The short answer - Not all calories are equal.
Similarly to Mr. Potato, we could technically all lose weight on a calorie restrictive diet regardless of the type of food we were eating. With that being said, 150 calories coming from candy is completely different to 150 calories coming from cashews.
Let’s break this down a little. A serving of cashews has 13g of healthy fat, 9g of carbohydrates, 4g of protein and 1g of dietary fibre. Not to mention they are high in copper, magnesium, essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium. On the other hand, we have the serving of M&Ms containing 7g of unhealthy fat, a whopping 20g of sugar and 1g of protein. Plus a very colorful selection of artificial ingredients.
Instead of asking the question, ‘how many calories does this have?’, we should be asking ‘how will my body respond to this?’. This question even allows room for some higher calorie foods to be apart of our diet, on the basis that our body is recognizing them and turning them into fuel with ease.
The best results with sustainable weight loss can be achieved by including a variety of nutrients that keep us satiated for long periods. Guess who is going to be hungry again first after eating either cashews or M&M’s? The protein, fibre and good fat in the cashews will give you more energy whilst providing several additional health benefits thanks to those vitamins and minerals. Eating the M&M’s will likely just spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling more hungry than before.
Again, whilst counting calories may work for some, it can also result in the formation of unhealthy, obsessive habits and a disordered relationship with food. It can really take the joy out of eating entirely.
So rather than giving our clients the nutritional information of all of our meals, our response to this question is that we do not encourage anyone to count calories. Instead, we ensure them that all of our meals have balanced macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and are made with high-quality whole foods with no nasty or unnecessary additives and sweeteners.
Rest assured that by giving your body simple, healthy foods and not obsessing or over-controlling, your waistline will reap the benefits.