Don't count calories!

If there is one thing that angers me it’s the continued focus on calorie-counting. It’s in the media constantly, on TV adverts for foods, and now even our children are being urged by Public Health England to seek out snacks under 100kcal with a catchy tune that even my son, who knows better, is singing! Statement of fact if you are so busy worrying about how many calories something has in it, you are not in touch with whether your body actually needs that food or not. Your decision-making around food should be:

Am I hungry?

What does my body need?

Oh, let’s see if I can find some of that delicious food that my body needs!


NOT: I feel like something to eat but I already ate 600kcal at breakfast and it’s not lunchtime yet. If I eat 200kcal now I can only have 300kcal for lunch. What am I supposed to do?

To me, this later version of events is wrong. We don’t need to count calories we need to eat real food and when we have eaten enough of that real food to satisfy our needs we should stop. How do we know when we have eaten enough? We eat slowly. If we eat slowly, chewing each mouthful of food multiple times until it is virtually liquid before we swallow, we’ll awaken the feedback mechanism that exists between the gut and the brain. That’s the mechanism that says “you’re done” or ” you need a little more fat/iron/potassium” (randomly chosen examples by the way but nevertheless true examples of how the system CAN work.)

What’s more is that we humans are not going to use the same amount of energy day in day out. Our energy requirements vary. A colder day, a day when you had to walk home from school, a match day, a day dance practice went on a little longer, a day you stopped off at the shops on the way home from work, a day you slept less, a day after you’ve overeaten, these things can all affect our energy needs. We don’t need to eat exactly the same number of calories each day. We do need to listen to what our body’s needs are.

So in short:

  • Eat slowly
  • Listen to your body
  • Stop eating when you’ve eaten enough

This wasn’t supposed to be a rant just some common sense advice.

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