Once I had decided to change my lifestyle and my food, I did exactly what most people do. I started counting the calories of the foods that I was eating. For convenience sake and for ease of tracking, I decided to start tracking my foods with an app that would automatically count the calories for me. I could also track my exercises and movements, showing I was consuming my allowed 1600-1800 calories daily. This is a very common method I’m sure many of you have either begun or do regularly.
While tracking using the app, I noticed a few things:
- I would read more food labels and determine the size of a portion and the number of calories – GOOD THING
- It was easier to purchase foods with a UPC symbol so I could just scan the barcode and input the data into my app – EASY THING
- I did not care at all about the ingredients – BAD THING
- I did not look at the nutritional values – BAD THING
This was the first step in my progression to good foods – I was actually becoming aware and mindful of what I was eating. The problem however, is that I fell into the trap of ease and convenience in food tracking. I became focused on a few numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I was consuming, the number of calories I was burning. The numbers became an obsession. I would constantly ask myself how many calories did I burn during the last squash game, and how many calories were in that handful of crackers and cheese.
What I didn’t realize (until much later) is that the NUMBERS don’t matter. What matters is the SOURCE of the calories.
We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” I never fully understood this until one of my ah-ha moments. What we eat will eventually become our cellular make up.
Where do you get your Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Good Fat and your Protein from?
- The Calcium that builds up your bones and maintains cellular function?
- The Potassium that circulates to maintain electrical balance and heart function?
- The Vitamins that fight infections, and maintain a state of homeostasis of your electrolytes?
- The Fat that maintains the Schwann Cells in your neurons, ensuring your brain functions correctly?
- The Proteins that make up all of your skeletal and cardiac muscle as well as the proteins that sit on the surface of EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY to ensure they react correctly to hormonal signals?
Once I realized that I truly am what I eat, my life changed – If I wanted to become healthy, I had to eat healthy. A FUNCTIONAL, CLEAN body comes from eating good CLEAN REAL FOOD.
I believe that we have evolved to live on this planet for a reason and that all of the sources of food that we require have evolved in the same way. This is why I now strive to avoid foods that have been processed in any way, shape or form, grown through mass agricultural means, or sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides.
I now no longer look at the calories on nutritional labels, I will now only look at the ingredients. I choose to eat real food, food that has come from the ground or an animal that has eaten food that grows naturally.
The following are my rules for grocery shopping:
- If it has an expiry date that is more than 10 days, I will not even look at it.
- If it is green and leafy, it is allowed.
- If it grew in the ground and was not processed at all, generally it is allowed (too much starch is not good).
- If it comes in a package, it can’t have any ingredients that I don’t know.
- More than 3-5 ingredients is a red flag (unless it’s a healthy trail mix with multiple natural ingredients like nuts and seeds).
- Chicken is free range, hormone and antibiotic free.
- Beef is grass-fed, free of hormones and antibiotics.
- Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids (more to come on this later).
- Fish are ideally wild, not farmed.
- Did you know that farmed fish often have chicken pellets in their feed… since when do salmon eat chicken in the food chain
Counting calories gave me a glimpse into becoming mindful of what I was eating, however it stopped me from becoming aware of the CONTENTS of my food intake.
Feel free to count calories if it’s working for you, but be very careful to not get pulled into the obsession of numbers. Your WEIGHT IS ONLY A SINGLE MEASURE OF YOUR HEALTH – IT IS NOT THE FINAL DETERMINANT. Health issues can also occur in people who have their weight under control, the key is to find a balance – balance your stress, balance your time, balance your food and your body will do the rest.
Real Men don’t count calories, they JUST EAT REAL FOOD.