Over the years I’ve had a few people ask me why I don’t include calorie counts on the recipes I share. Isn’t this website supposed to help people eat healthier and lose weight?
You can imagine their surprise when I tell them that the reason I don’t post calories is because I want to help them eat healthier and lose weight. (Zing!) And calorie counts don’t contribute to that goal.
I’m not disputing the notion that eating less promotes weight loss. I’ve tried it and it works. The problem with posting calorie counts is it doesn’t give you any information about whether or not you’re making a good food decision, which is all most of us need to worry about.
You might think that calorie counts can help dieters monitor their food intake and lose weight, but when you stop and think about what this entails it’s easy to see how ridiculous it is.
It takes extreme skill and dedication to accurately tally your calorie intake every day, if it is even possible. As we saw yesterday, calorie counts at restaurants can be off by over a hundred calories, and packaged foods are legally allowed to be 20% higher than their labels claims. You may have better luck with home cooked meals, but it requires the detailed weighing, researching and recording of every ingredient you use.
And toward what goal?
Very few people have been tested and know their resting metabolic rate (how many calories you burn while doing nothing). To balance your energy expenditure you’d also need to account for your physical activity each day (dream on if you think the machines at the gym, or even your heart rate monitor, are giving you accurate calorie expenditures).
Theoretically you could just set a very low calorie goal and hope for the best, but that is essentially a semi-starvation diet and if that’s all you want to achieve then why bother counting?
If you really want to know if a recipe (or packaged food, for that matter) is healthy, skip the calorie counts and look at the ingredients. Do they consist of natural foods that grow from the earth or have they been processed beyond recognition?
Make better food decisions based on quality, unprocessed ingredients and you will be healthier and likely lose weight. Your food will be more satisfying (you’ll naturally eat less), you’ll have more energy (exercise is easier) and you’ll look better (positive reinforcement). If you’re already making excellent food decisions and still need to lose more weight, eating less using mindful eating and other tricks is very effective. Counting calories isn’t necessary.
In other words, I don’t post calorie counts because they distract you from what actually matters: eating real food.
All ingredients are proudly displayed on Summer Tomato recipes.