Thursday, October 25, 2012

A calorie's a calories...until it's not

The term calorie is a measurement of how much energy is in something.  Your favorite pasta noodles are mostly carbs which have 4 calories per gram.  Same with protein: 4 calories per gram -- while fat is often villified for having 9 calories per gram.

So on the surface, things seem pretty straight forward -- you can eat twice as much protein and carbs as fats for the same amount of calories. 

And whether it is a whole food or a highly processed one, the calorie content of the different macronutrtients (carbs, protein, and fats) stays the same.  So when are calories not all the same?  When the combination of fats and sugars rewire our brain to drive cravings.  When was the last time you craved an apple?  An avacado?  An orange?  A salad?

Sure, you might get a craving for healthy food sometimes....maybe.  But now name the last time you were craving a latte, fries, cookies or a brownie. 

Food isn't just about the energy stored in it -- if it was, I doubt many of us would be overweight.  It's about satisfaction, managing our emotions, feeling a sense of family or community.  Those things come from tastes, smells, and textures -- not the calories.  Tastes, smells, textures and the feelings associated with them are part of the complex puzzle of what drives us to eat the variety and amount we do.

Until you get to the bottom of what you're trying to accomplish with the foods you're eating, it is going to be very difficult to be successful in managing your weight over your lifetime.

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