Saturday, May 30, 2015

Education Lesson: Don't Count Calories

Calorie-counting is tedious. When I used to diet, I would be very regimented about it, but I would lose my stamina a couple days in. What I love about living the whole foods plant-based lifestyle is that you DON'T have to count calories. In fact, it is only when you are eating processed foods that you have to care.

So, what do I mean by eating whole foods, plant-based? That means eating fruits, vegetables (including starchy veggies like potatoes!), whole grains (oats, whole wheat pasta/breads, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, etc.), beans/legumes, and a small amount of seeds/nuts/avocados. That may sound simple and boring, but when prepared/cooked well, they are tasty and satiating. This whole blog is dedicated to recipes that contain primarily whole foods (and, in many cases, ALL whole foods). You DO NOT have to count calories when you are eating whole foods plant-based. Eat until you are satiated (or satisfied!)

However, it is when we choose to buy or eat processed foods that we HAVE TO READ THE NUTRITION LABEL.  So, what are considered processed foods? Processed foods are anything that comes in a box, package, bag, etc. that contains an ingredient list. We probably cannot avoid ALL processed foods because we may find ourselves in situations where we have to eat some or choose to on occasion. I always look at a couple of things on the nutrition label if I buy a processed food...

1) What percentage of fat does a serving of the processed food have? Read my Food Labels post to learn how to quickly calculate this. My eating lifestyle consists of around 75-80% whole carbohydrates, 10-15% fat (mostly from whole foods), and 10% protein (again, mostly from whole foods). I do not cook with any oil (except for  one or two recipes that include 1 t. of dark sesame oil for flavor) because it is highly processed and most all of the healthy nutrients have been stripped away, leaving 120 calories per tablespoon and a whopping 14 fat grams (which generally like to camp out on my butt or tummy).

2) How many ingredients does the product have and are the ingredients in the list whole foods or chemicals? I have a general rule: If I cannot buy the ingredient in a grocery store (i.e. Transglutaminase), I try not to purchase the product.

3) Does the product contain white sugar or flour? I do not buy products with any white sugar or flour because they are also highly processed and far from their original whole form.

4) How much fiber is in the product? Products that contain more fiber tend to be healthier and can be an indicator of a more whole foods, less processed product.

5) How many grams of sugar are in the product? When choosing plant milk, for example, I like to choose unsweetened or very low sugar. So, checking the grams of sugar helps me choose better products. Sadly, sugar is added in MANY processed products.

One part of the ingredient label I specifically skip is PROTEIN. I really don't care about how many grams of protein a product has. It is a misnomer that we need a lot of protein in our diet. In fact, it is detrimental and causing several illnesses. Eating less protein (whether plant-based or not) is shown to be MUCH MORE beneficial to health.

So, check labels when buying products in a box, package, or bag to allow you to make the best possible choices!

No comments:

Post a Comment