Like the majority of normal human beings, I’m not always responsible with my eating habits. Some days, I’ll choose chips over salad and put all the toppings on that baked potato. Because it makes you happy when it tastes good, right?
I am not a big fan of diets, yes, they might work for some, but I rather eat clean. And by that, I mean, I am not obsessed with counting calories and I honestly do not enjoy spending time reading nutrition facts labels. Luckily, I do have a very healthy workout routine – some of my friends may even call it too healthy – as I work as a group fitness instructor, sweat it out at F45 and love being dedicated with my yoga practice. So, some days there are 2-3 time slots for exercise allocated. And when you work out (meaning, when your body is working), you need fuel, you need “energy” – which yes, that might be calories. But there are good and bad calories. And I believe it is much more about the quality of the food as well as balancing it out.
My main reasons for not counting calories are
- Not all calories are equal. Well, on paper they may be, but there are extreme differences in the way our body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat (which are the 3 main sources of calories in our diet). I am not going into too much detail, but feel free to read on 🙂
- Nutrients matter much more than calories. I am a big fan of counting (or being aware of) nutrients, rather than calories. I don’t like maths, so I choose to fully ignore calorie numbers or labels, especially on real foods. My body likes real foods (eggs, fish, avocado, nuts and seeds ) and there are benefits to eating them. I don’t need a calorie count to tell me otherwise.
- Aim for a healthy relationship with food. I don’t think it is healthy to either our brain or body to analyse every smallest bit of food we eat. People counting calories can end up having a bit of an obsession about it, sometimes it even leads them to weird, restrictive and definitely not healthy choices when it comes to food.
So, instead of counting calories, maybe consider some of the tips below to help you eat clean and healthy and naturally find/maintain a healthy weight:
- Put your full attention on the food in front of you, e.g. sit down when you eat.
The human body is not a machine, and many of food-related issues that we have, can be traced to our lack of awareness of how and what we eat. Our diet plays a very significant role in how we feel, so practicing mindful eating can have a huge (positive) impact on our wellbeing. Try and experience your food with all your senses: look at it, taste it, smell it, touch it…
- Chew slowly.
Chewing food thoroughly improves digestion, hydration and allows the body to absorb more nutrients.
- Opt for more vegetables, limit processed foods.
Processed foods are directly opposed to clean eating: they have been modified from their natural state and are often full of sugar, chemicals and other unhealthy ingredients. Vegetables and fruits on the other hand are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals your body needs.
- Drink water.
Drink 2-3 litres every day to keep the body hydrated. Water also helps the stomach feel full, making you less likely to snack or eat too much.
- Quit sugar! We eat way too many added sugars. Australians currently consume more than double the recommended amount. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that no more than 10% of total daily energy intake should come from added sugars. This equates to about 50 grams (12 teaspoons) of added sugar for an average adult. Now, if you are enjoying a can of soft drink (375ml), you already have consumed 10 teaspoons of sugar!
And most importantly, enjoy good food. Enjoy it in company (food connects people), host a dinner party or organise a picnic where everyone brings a dish – even if you are not a master chef, or the dish didn’t turn out to taste as good as you expected – it will always taste better when enjoyed with family or friends.
“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.”
– Paul Prudhomme –