Why you should stop counting just calories on your plate

Try to spot how many good fats, vital vitamins and minerals and protein mass you can see in your plate instead of being calorie myopic.

 |  Hello, Health  |  4-minute read |   11-09-2017
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Food is powerful! Very powerful!

How powerful?

Well, let me wake you up with this:

Excess weight today is the single-largest health threat facing mankind, killing more people than anything else. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2014, 39 per cent adults aged 18 years and over (38 per cent men and 40 per cent women) were overweight. It's been three years since and the numbers have only being consistently and alarming increasing. And that's not it, all lifestyle diseases from diabetes to heart disease to cancer and depression are on a rampage.

There is without doubt an un-wellness pandemic engulfing us.

The sad part is that while we see this happening - to us and to everyone around us - we aren't really doing anything about it. Except worrying and cribbing about it maybe!

food1690_091117013816.jpgUnless we are nutritionally fit, we won’t function at our optimum.

Well, the good news is that all this is preventable by a simple tool at our disposal - just changing what we plate. Right nutrition is the answer.

The eating wrong epidemic

I write about food, nutrition particularly and I speak about it too. And I take it very seriously because I believe what we eat has the potential to determine both the quality and the length of our lives.

Right food can deliver on a platter (pun intended) - a happy, healthy and a longer life.

But for that to happen, we first have to accept the facts. We need to acknowledge and face the epidemic we don't even talk about - the eating wrong epidemic.

So instead of whimpering about the lifestyle diseases epidemic eating into our country's health, or feeling bad about our blood sugar getting in the red or blood pressure hovering at a stratospherically high point, we first need to acknowledge that 'eating wrong' is an epidemic too. One that has us enthralled and engulfed. 

food2690_091117014312.gifIf you are a fan of low or no carb diets and restrict cereals excessively in your diet, you may not get enough vitamins.

Let us accept it because this is where the downward health spiral actually begins. Hiding under our desks, ignoring this, blaming the government, or the pollution or the West, or even your boss for your ill health, stress or fatigue… isn't going to help.

In fact, I'd go to the extent of saying that when you look at your plate - you can actually, actually see what your future body is going to be like.

Yes!!! So begin with actually "seeing your plate" a little more closely.

Focus on nutrition

My get healthy philosophy is clear and simple: If we focus on nutrition, rest everything will fall in place automatically.

When our diet is loaded with empty foods, which are low on nutrition (that is the basic vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes our body needs) then sustenance does not happen. I define sustenance as not just filling of the stomach with the required calories but with nutritional satiety. And without sustenance there is no satisfaction, without which the urge to continue eating continues. Yes it's that oft familiar feeling of eating without being able to stop when we should and the gnawing utterly uncontrollable avalanche of cravings that rule our food choices!

Second, unless we are nutritionally fit, we won't function at our optimum and that is a real deal breaker.

For example, you may be at risk of anaemia, one side effect of which is constant fatigue. This will interfere with your ability to exercise which will lead to weight gain.

food3690_091117014404.jpgWeed off the wrong foods from your diet and replace with nutritionally dense, sustaining foods.

Similarly, if you are a fan of low or no carb diets and restrict cereals excessively in your diet, you may not get enough b vitamins, which are essential for fat metabolism in the body. Result: more fat deposition.

There! Yes, that's how diets that restrict carbs too much fall flat!

Finally, if your body doesn't get the nutrients it needs, it gets defensive and will hold onto to whatever it gets, thus making it harder for you to lose weight.

So...

Stop counting just calories on your plate, widen your horizon and use nutritional commonsense instead. When you sit down to eat, instead of being calorie myopic, I'd rather you try to spot how many good fats, vital vitamins and minerals and protein mass you can see in your plate.

Weed off the wrong foods from your diet and replace with nutritionally dense, sustaining foods.

food4690_091117014448.jpgHealthy choices make life not just longer, but far better.

Instead of making a low calorie foods list, make instead a list of power foods (which are loaded with nutrients) and begin eating them. Think lean proteins, colourful fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, seeds nuts, dairy…

It's common sense actually that when you focus on eating the right food, they automatically crowd out the bad. And that's the right approach! Like I mentioned above healthy choices make life not just longer, but far far better.

Also read: Indian education sector needs urgent reforms to stay relevant

Writer

Kavita Devgan Kavita Devgan @kavitadevgan

The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico).

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