Disease Proof

Does Counting Calories Matter?

I’m no diet guru, but the concept of counting calories seems totally off the mark. Especially when the dietary equation sums up like this: fried chicken + milk shake = calorie allotment for the day. Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think too highly of calorie counting either. From The Problem with Weight Watchers and other Calorie Counting Diets:
With calorie-counting and point-counting and having to weigh, measure, and calculate amounts eaten, you are following a diet. Who wants to diet and measure portions forever? I enjoy eating. I eat the way I advise all my patients to do, yet I am not overweight. Why? I enjoy eating lots of great tasting stuff and not having to worry about my weight or my health. Intellectually, I know that I am doing the right thing to prevent heart disease and other medical problems from developing in my future. Dieting and measuring out thimble-sized portions of food for the rest of one's life is not something that fits in naturally and permanently into anyone's lifestyle. Besides, anything you do temporarily gives only temporary benefit.
One of Dr. Fuhrman’s most major points is the concept of nutrient density. In short, nutrition is not just about eating a certain amount of calories per day. Superior nutrition is achieved by eating lots of nutrient-dense low-calorie foods; like leafy green cruciferous vegetables. He talks about it in Eat to Live:
As long as you are eating so many low-nutrient foods, it is impossible to lose weight healthfully. In fact, this vicious combination of sedentary lifestyle and eating typical "American" food should make normal people overweight. It is perfectly normal to become a "food-addict," eating more calories when the body requires, when your intake of micronutrients is so low. This low nutrient intake leads to cellular toxicity creating an internal environment when cravings, and ill-feeling ensue if the body is not continually overfed. It is similar to the way a heroin or nicotine addict, who needs their regular fix, or withdrawal will begin and they will feel too uncomfortable. The standard (low phytonutient) diet leads to discomfort (headaches, weakness, abdominal spasm and fluttering, mental confusion and more) the minute your stomach empties for a few hours.
Now keep this in mind when you read this article in The New York Times. Apparently consumers are calling for calorie content labels on fast food; including McDonald’s, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and others. Lots of people want the labels, but some are skeptical—so am I. Roni Caryn Rabin reports:
“Do you think people will stop eating McDonald’s French fries and Big Macs?” asked Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing New York City over its law. “It doesn’t keep me from eating a candy bar even though the calories are listed on it right in front of me.” (A Big Mac has 540 calories; a medium order of fries, 380.)

But public opinion polls suggest that consumers are overwhelmingly in favor of menu labeling. And a 2005 survey of 5,297 adults by the food services company Aramark found that 83 percent of them wanted nutritional information in restaurants.

“Often, people are trying to do the right thing and make the healthier choice, but they’re just guessing at what the best choice is — it’s not always obvious,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the advocacy group that is leading the movement for menu labeling. “Because there’s no nutritional information, they’re not getting what they think they’re getting.”

The chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s is one of those items that might appear to be a healthier choice, but brace yourself: it contains 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat, while the sirloin has 540 calories and 42 grams of fat (not counting side dishes).
What do you think? Personally, I think people are going to eat junk food regardless of labels. Most snack foods and candy are labeled and people still eat them. I agree with Dr. Fuhrman on this one, the bigger issue here is most people’s inability to feel true hunger; which according to Dr. Fuhrman starts very early in life. Back to Eat to Live:
Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.
Over all, labels just seem like another standard American band aid approach to fixing the standard American diet woes—sigh. But again, I’m just a lowly blogger. What do you think?
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