Friday, July 12, 2013

Marie's Musings: Are you a Calorie Counter?

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As part of the Gluten Free Health Challenge, Marie will be posting her journal entries on the first 3 Fridays of every month from now until December. She will also be receiving free health coaching during this time from Sarah Dochow of Nurture Nutrition and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel


Hello world! So you are all probably wondering why I've decided to include a picture of a bottle of oil along with this post. After all, people reading food and diet blogs tend to like looking at pictures of actual meals, right? I've yet to post pictures of all the delicious food I've been eating but instead of talking about proper meals today, I wanted to share my thoughts on calories, and what is more calorie laden than oil? One tablespoon has a whopping 130 calories, which in my opinion is a ridiculously high number. I need to start getting out of that mindset.

For as long as I can remember, I have been conscious of my weight. I remember being in elementary school and always being the biggest girl in my class, both in terms of height and weight. I always felt massive and I was always acutely aware of it. At that age, I didn't really know about calories or losing weight, but I knew I wanted desperately to be skinny like all the actresses I'd see on TV and the models in the magazines. When I was little, and I couldn't have been more than six years old at the time, I actually used to fantasize that there was a magic potion I could drink that would reverse all the delicious foods I ate so instead of making me fat, I would get skinny instead. 

Healthy, huh?

By the time I got to high school, I learned what calorie counting was all about and I've been doing it ever since. I remember going on the LA Weight Loss diet with my mother and going to those awful meetings, writing down every morsel, tracking every meal, and generally becoming a girl obsessed with every bite of food that passed my lips. A few years later, I went on the Atkins diet at my doctor's recommendation and I did lose weight from it, but it sparked an obsession in me to become as thin as humanly possible. When I lost the weight and went back to eating normal, well, it became more abnormal than anything to be honest. I used to sit in my college classes obsessively writing down elaborate meal plans to keep me at less than 300 calories a day instead of paying attention to lectures.

I'm happy to say that over the last couple of years, I've stopped my neurotic obsession with numbers. I go through phases where I will still journal my food and count my calories but I've stopped consciously trying to limit myself. If I had a 740 calorie 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor, I wrote it down with no regrets. A family sized bag of potato chips? That would be on the list as well. These would be full meals for me and though unhealthy and far from low-calorie, it was okay with me. Still, I could never imagine actually adding extra calories to my food on purpose. After struggling with my weight all my life, it just seemed ridiculous to intentionally try to bulk up my meals. Who does that? Well, now that my meals are so restricted between being vegan and gluten free, I need to start doing it. I find this utterly bizarre.

I've always been the type to go for the lowest calorie option if given a choice. I'll grab a case of diet cola even if I really want a Pepsi. I'll flavor potato chips with hot sauce instead of proper dip to shave calories there. I think it's been over a year since I've actually had a proper glass of juice; instead I have become addicted to zero calorie flavor packets. It's not that I'm afraid of ingesting more. It's just been ingrained in me that less is better.

Someone suggested that my mood swings may be related to not taking in enough calories and that I should try adding oil to my meals. Say what? A typical lunch for me is a bowl of rice (160 calories) with salsa (15 calories), a vegetable such as seasoned cabbage (30 calories), all drowning in hot sauce (a marvelous zero calories). I know this is low calorie. I don't do it on purpose. It's just an easy, delicious, filling meal that works for me. How could I ruin it with an extraneous tablespoon of oil?

Well, I did. And it has been glorious.

I'd forgotten how amazing cooking with oil can be. It enhances flavors and definitely keeps me fuller for longer. It's good for me. It helps to balance my macronutrient ratio. It makes me feel like a normal human being who can prepare foods without giving a thought to numbers. It's been...exciting. Being on this challenge has definitely opened up new doors for me and is forcing me to reevaluate how I think about food.

I am starting to really like it.



Dorothy said...

Hi Marie, Another great post! And I read it on the perfect day.....because I wasn't eating enough (ran out of groceries) and it DID impact my mood. I thought about your post -- the awareness hit me. Then I went out and a got a big yummy gluten free lunch and then I felt better. It's so interesting how we are raised to think about calories and counting calories. When, really, it's about eating food to make our bodies feel good and healthy. Loved reading your post and wanted you to know it helped me. I look forward to the next one!

Anonymous said...

Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils. So glad you've added it to you're diet, since you're eating habits seemed to be not so healthy in the past. I use it almost every day, and have it in a oil mister bottle on my kitchen counter. By spraying by pans, helps limit the amount I use. I always worry when I hear that someone uses no oil in their diet, it's very important, and good for just about everything in your body. Stay healthy !

Deb W.

burghgrl said...

Hi Marie...sorry I'm so far behind in reading this particular posting of yours. It really struck a powerful chord in me. Being on the Swank ms diet for 24 years, it's all about serious limiting of SATURATED fat's, right? well, the balance is, i've GOTTA have three tablespoons a day of GOOD oils. Yep...I tell ya, it makes ALL the difference in my energy/mood levels.Most people just don't "get" it.they think this amount of oils is absurd...wayyy too much. (particularly women who're weight watching), but...when eating a whole foods, plant based diet and that's all the fat you's a ~very small amount & liquid GOLD as far as I'm concerned. Pure energy! I use pure and Extra virgin olive oils, as well as flax,safflower and almonds daily. Twenty four years on drugs. Pretty good I'd say :)Thanks for sharing your world with us Marie!


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