Hello out there! I know this title is a little weird but I had two topics on my mind: week 29’s healthy habit and calorie counting pros & cons. In reality, they are absolutely connected. Some people think that calorie counting is the opposite of focusing on healthy eating. I don’t think that is necessarily true, but you can decide for yourself.
Are you guys ready to continue your veggie challenge? How did breakfast go this week? Were you able to get in veggies at breakfast? With traveling I definitely did not get in as many veggies as I could. Okay, like zero, I totally failed but that happens sometimes. At least I got some in last week with that amazing Healthy Breakfast Casserole.
Week 29: Two Fistfuls of Veggies at Lunch & Dinner
We practiced getting veggies in at the hardest times of the day: breakfast and snacks. Most people have an easier time getting in veggies at lunch and dinner than other meals.
However, we have to focus on it because in general it is easy to skip the veggies and go for a carbohydrate based meals such as sandwiches, pasta, and rice bowls. I coach my Hungry Hobby RD clients to swap the base of the meals to veggies and try to get at least two fistfuls per meal. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go on a low carbohydrate diet, but the majority of your carbohydrates should come from non-starchy vegetables.
[Tweet “Week 29 in the 52 Weeks series is about amping up your veggies, do you get two fistfuls at lunch and dinner? via @hungryhobbyrd “]
Calorie Counting: A Love-Hate Relationship
I’ve talked several times on the blog about my experience with calorie counting. If you are new to Hungry Hobby you can read more about how I wrecked my metabolism, how it ended up working against me, and how I finally transitioned to a life without it. In fact, I started Hungry Hobby to show others you could live your life trim and tone without it. That doesn’t mean that I hate calorie counting and think it is evil, not by any means. There is a time and place for everything, and how someone implements their nutrition plan must fit their needs.
That doesn’t mean that I hate calorie counting or think it is evil, not by any means. There is a time and place for everything, and how someone takes control of their nutrition plan must fit their individual needs.
Calorie Counting Benefits
Teaches portion size. The fact is that America has super-sized everything, so we have no idea what appropriate portion sizes are. When I say appropriate, I mean the portion size that will keep you full for a few hours and satisfy YOU.
Teaches energy density of food. I don’t care how healthy it is for you peanut butter is an energy dense food. One spoonful could be 200-300 calories and don’t lie, there are times you (meaning I) have gone for two spoonfuls.
Teaches you the macronutrients in food. Most calorie counting programs also include a breakdown of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. This will start to give you an idea of what certain foods contain so you can begin to balance your meals better.
Teaches you balance and trade-off. When you have a finite number of calories per day, you tend to not waste them on foods that aren’t really worth it. You realize you can’t have everything all at once, you have to make trade-offs.
Helps you stay focused and accountable. When you record food intake in a food diary you are accountable to your choices. However, this applies to simply recording typical food intake as well.
It allows flexibility. When you want to lose weight there is significant pressure to have a perfect diet. Counting calories can give you the flexibility to have a cookie or glass of wine if you want it, leading to fewer feelings of deprivation.
Calorie Counting Concerns
Calories are inaccurate, up to 20%. Calories are the amount of energy released when combustible, but a food label has a 20% margin of error when it comes to reporting calorie numbers.
They don’t take into account the thermic effect of food. It is estimated it takes between 20-25% of the calories coming from protein simply to break it down and digest it, in contrast, it takes 5-8% for carbs and 1-3% for fat.
They don’t take into account the metabolic effect on the body. Fat, protein, and fiber stimulate satiety cues and satiety hormones that signal our brains that we are full. Carbohydrates provide energy but too much can lead to increased blood sugar levels and fat storage (just as excess calories in any form can.) We need carbohydrates, but the amount and timing are important factors.
They don’t emphasize food quality. When I was counting calories I ate a ton of those 100 calorie packs leaving me feeling deprived and hungry. 100 calories of refined carbohydrates will never be metabolically the same as 100 calories from a fiber and nutrient-rich banana.
The body will adapt. The most important concern you should have with calorie counting is what you chose that number to be. For instance, if a person that typically requires 2,000 calories for maintenance drops to 1,200, 1,400 or even 1,500 calories per day they may lose weight initially but eventually their body will adapt to that calorie level. This is what happened to me when I started gaining weight eating only 1,200 calories a day and working out.
You may learn to override hunger and satiety cues. You may choose to ignore being hungry to save calories for later, and eat when you are not hungry because you have calories left for the day. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and a reliance on outside cues to tell you when to eat, versus your body telling you what you need.
The point is, calorie counting is often shamed in the healthy living blog world. It is my opinion that the way someone chooses to manage their nutrition plan should never be shamed, it is a personal decision. Similar to how we often look at someone who is overweight and assume they aren’t eating healthy enough or working out enough, when in fact, they could be working out too much and eating too little causing stress and damage to the metabolism, preventing them from losing weight.
I’m not totally against it, I still use calorie counting one or two times a month to get back on track from an indulgent weekend, or track my protein intake and then stop.
With my Hungry Hobby RD clients I ask them to consider:
- How long they have been calorie counting.
- How long they want to continue calorie counting.
- What their relationship with food is like.
- What the ultimate goal is.
Then we map out a plan that makes the most sense for them, with or without calorie counting. It isn’t a one size fits all thing, the body and especially the metabolism needs to be nurtured and take care of. However, regardless of whether they continue to calorie count, I am going to make sure they have the foundational skills to live their lives with or without it, like the habits outlined in this series!
52 Healthy Habits E-Course
Did you miss this series or wish you could repeat it? No problem! I’ve put all the posts together in an e-course that directly corresponds with the healthy habits series! By focusing on one healthy habit per week you’ll be able to master the skills needed to successfully improve your health, increase your energy, and drop those unwanted pounds. The best part is, you’ll do it while barely even realizing it. These 52 habits are the habits I review with almost every single Hungry Hobby RD client. These habits are the backbone of getting off the diet train and getting the results you wanted! What are you waiting for??????
The e-course will provide supportive information such as tips and tricks to help you ingrain each healthy habit as part of your permanent lifestyle.
Cost of the automated series is $26 dollars (just 50 cents per week) for the whole year, which helps me cover the cost of automating the emails through my server. Thanks!
( Want to really plan to succeed and save money? What To Eat? Meal Plan subscriptions also come with this E-Course as part of the subscription! They also come with a supportive facebook group and a ton more goodies, check them out!)
52 HEALTHY HABITS IN 52 WEEKS SERIES:
The 52 Healthy Habits Series is about ditching the diet mindset and making small changes to improve health overall naturally leading to a healthy body composition, increased energy and improved health. Please follow along and check out the past weeks!
- Week 52: Healthy Habits Wrap Up
- Week 51: Nightly Reflection
- Week 50: Limit Harmful Chemicals
- Week 49: Find Your Tribe
- Week 48: Cultivating Positivity
- Week 47: Healthy Thanksgiving Tips
- Week 46: Check In
- Week 45: Mobility – Foam Rolling
- Week 44: HIIT Training
- Week 43: LISS or Steady State Cardio
- Week 42: Limit Alcohol
- Week 41: Eat White, Wait What?
- Week 40: Eat Blue & Purple
- Week 39: Eat Green
- Week 38: Eat Yellow/Orange
- Week 37: Eat Red
- Week 36: Learn Which Foods to Purchase Organic
- Week 35: Read the Ingredient List!
- Week 34: Focus.
- Week 33: Chew Your Food!
- Week 32: Meditation
- Week 31: Gratitude Journaling
- Week 30: Plan & Revamp Dessert- 20 Healthy Ideas
- Week 29: Two fistfuls of veggies per meal
- Week 28: Get In Veggies At Breakfast
- Week 27: Healthy Veggie Snacks
- Week 26: Nourishing Fats for the Gut (Healthy Digestion Part 4)
- Week 25: Keeping Regular – The Other Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 3)
- Week 24: Feed The Probiotics With Prebiotic Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 2)
- Week 23: Amazing Health Benefits of Probiotics (Healthy Digestion Part 1)
- Week 22: Check In
- Week 21: What You Will Learn From Recording Your Meals (Intuitive Eating Series Part 4)
- Week 20: Eat Until 80% Full (Hara Hachi Bu) (Intuitive Eating Series Part 3)
- Week 19: Limit Distractions While Eating (Intuitive Eating Series Part 2)
- Week 18: Gaging Your Hunger Cues (Intuitive Eating Series Part 1)
- Week 17: 10,000 Steps Per Day
- Week 16: Assess Your Caffeine Intake
- Week 15: Decrease Sugar Intake
- Week 14: Healthy Coffee Creamers (upgrade yours)
- Week 13: 3 Month Check In
- Week 12: Sleep Enough & Sleep Better
- Week 11: Schedule Your Workouts
- Week 10: Pack A Healthy Lunch (5 Ways to Create Endless Combinations)
- Week 9: Prioritizing Protein
- Week 8: How and What to Meal Prep
- Week 7: Create & Stick To Your Healthy Meal Plan
- Week 6: Get Enough Omega-3’s (Fight Inflammation)
- Week 5: What Is A Healthy Fat & How To Get Enough (Include Healthy Fats)
- Week 4: How to Spot A Healthy Carbohydrate (Upgrade Your Carbs)
- Week 3: Tips to Increase Veggie Intake (Eat Veggies)
- Week 2: 15 Healthy On the Go Breakfast Ideas (Eat BF Challenge)
- Week 1: Tips to Drink More Water