For years of my life I saw food as numbers – the number of meals, the number of snacks, the number of calories, the percentage of carbs, fat and protein. My brain was a database of portion sizes, calories and macros. I could estimate the calorie content and macros of an entire menu in under 5 minutes. I learned this information to make myself healthier but in the end all this mental math landed me in a confused and unhealthy place. The focus on numbers replaced all other ideas about food.
Do you think your great-grandmother counted calories? What about her great-grandmother? Hell no. You know what they cared about? What their brains were busy thinking about as they fed their families? Nutrients! Nourishment! Robust health!
It’s not the calories but the quality of the calories that matters. One hundred calories of Cheetos is not the same as 100 calories of avocado. Foods devoid of nutrients and high in calories are in large part to blame for the obesity epidemic. How many Snackwells star-shaped cinnamon cookies could you eat back in the day? Don’t lie…you know the answer is the whole box. You know why? Zero nutrients means zero nourishment and zero satiation. You need fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to feel satisfied, to feel energized and to supply your body with the building blocks for growth and repair.
Let’s shift our focus from numbers to nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods are unprocessed, unaltered, whole foods that your great-grandmother and her great-grandmother would recognize as food. This includes pastured meats and eggs, grass-fed dairy, fruits, vegetables, nut, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Food quality plays a huge role in nutrient-density as well. Learn more about food quality here.
Aim to fill the majority of your snacks and meals with foods that naturally contain a wide variety of nutrients. Then, forget about the numbers and take the time to really enjoy (and chew) the food in front of you.
Optimal health is in the nutrients not the numbers!