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Column: Calories Aren’t Everything

By Acadia Otlowski

We have all been in line waiting for food and heard two girls looking at the menu discussing how many calories various items contained.  They lament how many calories there are in just about all the items on the menu.

I used to count calories until I realized that for me it lead to unhealthy, obsessive habits. I would be concerned about the number of calories in something about going over my daily limit. This would even be for healthy foods that I was consuming.

The smartphone app My Fitness Pal is a good for those beginning to take a look at their eating habits and those with a lot of weight to lose. This calorie counting app can lead to unhealthy weight loss and unrealistic expectations.

If I put my weight in My Fitness Pal and say I want to lose 10 pounds the application will not give me a notification that I am already at a healthy weight. It won’t warn me that the calorie intake it recommends is far below my metabolic rate, essentially putting my body into starvation mode.

I have had My Fitness Pal recommend that I eat a little over 800 calories a day. This is not healthy at all. Other times it will spit out the net calorie intake as around 1200 calories. The problem is that these counters don’t personalize the results for you specifically. If I ate only 1,200 calories a day, I would be eating well below my metabolic rate.

Calories are not everything. They aren’t an indication of nutrition. There are low calorie things that are processed to the point of being dangerous for your health. An example of this is diet soda. It has zero calories, but is definitely not good for you. Studies have shown that those who drink diet soda on a regular basis have an increased cancer risk. But avocados and various tree nuts are very dense and have a high amount of calories.

This only goes to show that calories really don’t matter, as long as they don’t come from bad places. When the calories come from overly processed sources, that is the time to be concerned. But all natural foods such as avocados will do only good.

When you eat, keep in mind that calories aren’t everything. They are a basic guideline for eating better. The content of the food is more important than the calorie count, because calories do no dictate nutritional value.

Instead of calories, look at sodium content, the types of fats, and the amount of sugar and protein.  These are what dictate the value of these foods, not the amount of calories.