When it comes to fitness and body image, one of the chief components that often comes up no matter the conversation is calories. While counting the calories one consumes in a day—either to build muscle or reduce one’s weight— can be used effectively and safely, this method of measuring one’s health has led to a considerable misconception regarding what is healthy and what isn’t. While the calories within certain foods can be important, it’s the nutritional value that is truly important but is often lost amid the growing obsession with calorie counting, which can be seen in many food chains displaying calorie counts alongside their food and drink options.
It’s this “lower calories equal healthier” misconception that Lucy Mountain, a fitness blogger, recently took on through her Instagram account. One of her accounts, TheFFFeed, offers food comparisons, which are meant for encouraging people to quit perceiving foods as either “unhealthy” or “healthy.” One photo, which depicted her holding almonds in one hand and candy in the other in equal calorie amounts (188), demonstrated how “healthy” foods, such as almonds, usually contain the same calories as foods deemed “unhealthy,” such as candy.
Mountain pointed out through her photo comparisons that while “healthy” foods typically have more micronutrients, it isn’t about that or the calories—it’s about what makes you feel greatest. For example, eating 100 calories’ worth of fresh strawberries isn’t the same as eating 100 calories of dried strawberries. By Mountain’s estimate, restriction isn’t necessary for eating healthy. “Moderation is key, and this will look different on different people depending on the person, their fitness goal, and their lifestyle,” Mountain said.
Another apt point Mountain makes is that excesses in calories from any certain food can lead to weight gain, not any one food, and the same goes for weight loss. “Having a [milk] chocolate bar in a day of well balanced meals and adequate micronutrients doesn’t suddenly make it ‘unhealthy,’” Mountain said. Darker chocolate may be “healthier,” but it contains more calories, and too much would lead to weight gain.
Enjoying Your Diet
Rather than people turning their diets into a chore, Mountain maintains it’s about taking pleasure in the foods we eat no matter our fitness goal, whether it’s gaining, maintaining, or losing weight. One of her photo comparisons depicting two bowls of oatmeal—one topped with Manuka honey, raspberries, and blueberries (393 calories), and the other with almond butter, a banana, and dates (644 calories)—shows similar dishes but with vastly different calorie counts. The point is simply that only preference matters as well as a person’s individual goals.
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