When is Counting Appropriate?

Hey hey hey! It’s another Friday (actually, my last Friday of summer thanks to having my wisdom teeth out this time next week), so that means it’s time for midday hot yoga and Starbucks.

Class was so flow-y and amazing today. I’m a huge fan of the energy from three flows, but sometimes it’s nice to just do two and have more time to explore. Well we definitely explored! I really felt every pose and dug in deep. We probably spent a full 30 minutes on just one flow. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Me (in black) doing acro yoga last summer

After class, I overheard a conversation about vegan and gluten-free baking. I’ve heard about this woman’s (let’s call her J) crazy delicious baking before, but never had the opportunity to talk to her myself. Luckily, today the stars aligned and I was able to ask her a bit about it. She even asked me if I would like some homemade vegan and gluten-free coconut cupcakes. Um, how could I say no?

Just an example---can't wait for the real thing! !source

I can’t tell you the last time I had a cupcake, let alone a vegan and gluten-free one homemade with love. Part of the reason is that I would honestly rather eat veggies (especially kabocha…YUM) and fruit than a traditional treat, and the other part is that I remember a time when someone used to force me to eat things I didn’t want (especially sweets) until I broke down.  Another story for another day.

My point is even though I don’t usually eat sweets (they just don’t make me feel so good; sugar crash are no fun), I am super excited to have a special dessert made by J. I look forward to enjoying ever little crumb. It’s a treat, and treats are meant to be enjoyed.

In general, what I’m trying to say is that not everything has to rigid, especially not eating habits. When inclinations and habits turn into obsessions and restrictions, that’s when things get dangerous. Do what works for you, but keep in mind that may be different from someone else. And if you’re helping someone transition to a new lifestyle (such as changing their diet for health or other reasons like I’m doing with my family), be compassionate. No one is perfect, and no diet is either. Our bodies do a lot for us so we should reward them with the food they need to thrive, just as we should reward our minds with a treat as well.

Starbucks dessert source

I guess what’s gotten me on this tangent is something I encountered in Starbucks. While waiting for my tall vanilla rooibos tea to brew, I overheard a conversation between a girl who was probably a year or so younger than me and a young twenty year old woman. The girl was at least 5 inches taller than me but skinner, which I only mention because it is important to the story. She was lamenting the “way over 500 calories” of her favorite drink. She said something about how she shouldn’t be ordering it anymore because it was going to make her fat. However, she said the cupcakes her and the woman ordered were “okay because they are only 100 calories or something.”

There are a lot of things I could say about this, but the big question for me is this: Should restaurants and cafes list the calorie counts of things on their menu? In Michigan, we don’t require it, so the girl must have looked up the info for her drink online. (Starbucks lists the calorie counts for the desserts, and nothing else, on their respective name cards.)

Elise posted about this question a few days ago, and I think her post is worth reading if you have the chance. In fact, I take a similar stance. I think calorie information is helpful for most people who would not otherwise worry about their health. I hope that it would help them make more informed decisions for healthier options, thus positively affecting their well-being overall. However, I do think that calorie information can detract from the enjoyment and dining experience, especially if you are someone like me who is mindful of their health and might make a different choice because of it. In that case, one meal is not going to kill you, and you might decide against something you would have enjoyed more.

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I also take issue with the fact that calorie counts do not show the whole picture, and often times, the average person does not know how to read them/how the fit into the big picture. I tend to read ingredients before I look at nutritional information because I believe in eating mostly whole-foods or products with short lists of non-processed ingredients. I would much rather have lots of healthy fats from things like almonds, coconut, and avocado then a lesser amount form hydrogenated oils.

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Of course, there is also a greater issue at work here. I think it is wonderful that children and young adults are becoming more aware of what they put in their bodies. However, there is no denying that this awareness can turn into an obsession and later a serious problem, such as an eating disorder. Every time I hear a young person stress over calories, fat, sugar, etc. in what seems like an unhealthy manner, I cry a bit inside. It hurts to think that young people in their prime might be heading down a slippery slope that will harm their bodies.

I have never gone into detail about my own story, but I will one day if you all are willing to listen. I am thankful that I did not have an eating disorder, but I did unfortunately go through a stress-related weight loss. Due to that, I suffered self-conciousness, just like many other girls regardless of their age/weight/etc. It’s been a journey, but eventually I was able to look in the mirror and say to myself, “I love you. You’re beautiful just the way you are. Thank you, body, for everything you do.”

I’m not sure how this post turned into such a discussion of my personal views, but sometimes it just happens. Now I want to hear what you have to say. Tell me anything. Either leave a comment on this post or email me at kabochavore at me dot com.

Do you think calorie counts are helpful or harmful? What’s your story? And do you ever overhear conversations? Apparently I’ve been doing that quite a bit today!

Have a lovely day!

Mandiee

P.S. Recipe posts will resume soon. I guess it’s just one of those days; I’ve been meaning to discuss this all for a while.

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2 responses to “When is Counting Appropriate?

  1. My therapist (I don’t see one anymore) would say that is is not calorie counting in-of-itself that is a problem (because that is just math, if you think about it), it’s when deeper and hurtful motives come into play. I still find myself guilty of that!

    And girl, you are gorgeous! Actually, I would be thinking, during our blogger meet-up, “gosh she is sooo pretty!”. Because it’s true!

  2. Great post. I’ve been struggling with similar issues this year because my on of my college friends counted calories to the point of obsession. At first, we would calorie-count together and track our progress, but when she started limiting her intake to about 1000 calories a day I started getting freaked out.
    I think maybe it can work for some people, but I saw it go downhill so quickly that I would not recommend counting exact calories. I think it’s important to be mindful of how much you eat, but it’s more about how hungry or full you feel than a number. That’s my opinion!

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