What is a Calorie? A Calorie is actually a kilocalorie which is a unit of heat used to measure the amount of energy provided by the food you eat. That is it. Just a measurement of how much energy your food will provide you with. It doesn't tell us what components make up a certain food/meal, it doesn't tell us if what we are eating is good for our bodies, it doesn't tell us anything other than energy levels. Yet when we eat or shop we often find ourselves pouring over the amount of calories a certain food has...well what about everything else??
One thing that drives me crazy is when people's only concern for a meal is the amount calories certain food contains and not about nutrition. If you're concerned about calories then you should be just as concerned about nutrition too. Those two go hand in hand, otherwise why should you even bother counting calories or what not. In the end, if you're body is not getting what it needs, whatever you were trying to achieve with the calorie count will have either negative affects in the long run or no effects at all.
Nutrition is a topic I hold dear to my heart because I spent so much time with it in college, almost became a Nutritionist at one point, so it really bothers me when people concerned with calorie counting don't care about nutrition.
Carbs are bad.... no they are not! Your brain, one of the most important parts of the body, the center in which controls everything, guess what, it only takes energy from carbohydrates. Carbs are only "bad" when you don't eat the right ones. People who don't eat carbs are actually harming themselves (and their brains). Don't generalize, but be aware of the different types of carbohydrates, simple vs complex, and which one you're eating/should be eating. Candy = simple = bad because yes the body will still get what it wants from it but its not enough. Like taking a shower once a month, does it help, yes(!) but is it enough, not really so by that definition, taking a shower only once a month is bad but the shower itself isn't, distinction. So eating just simple carbs are bad and it gives carbs a bad name because most people don't distinguish.
All fats are not created equal. There are 2 types of fatty acids: unsaturated (where the carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain contains double bonds) and saturated (single bond links). We like to, and should, have more unsaturated fatty acids in our system because our body can break those down easier. Within the unsaturated (double bonded carbons) fatty acids department they are further broken down to 2 groups: polyunsaturated fats (multiple double bonds) or monounsaturated fats (1 double bond) which within these 2 groups there are a number of possible combination of positions in which the double bonds occur making each different position of a double bond a slightly different unsaturated fat and each different one would have their individual structure and function. If you've lost me with all this science talk, let me just give you an example, Omega-3 fatty acids vs Omega -6, both are monounsaturated fatty acid but they are different because the double bond for Omega -3 is located at the third carbon in the chain and Omega-6's double bond is located at the 6th carbon in the chain therefore making these 2 fatty acids different in structure and function. Take away message, find out what your body needs in terms of fatty acids and distinguish between the good and bad ones. Though fats should be limited, we still need them.
***what about trans fat and why are they bad?? Trans fat are a type of unsaturated fat that has an even more stable carbon double bond, meaning its even harder to break down. Double bonds have 2 configurations, Cis- and Trans- and hence the name Trans fat. Naturally occurring trans fats are rare and for the most part, trans fat has been a human manipulation of the more common cis transformation of fatty acids found in vegetable oil to attempt to stabilize fats into a solid form aka hydrogenating oils aka margarine. There's a much more elaborate process to what margarine is and how its made, etc. Basically its trans-fat in a stick. Side note: just because something says zero grams trans fat doesn't mean its true, there are loopholes around the nutrition label, be cautious and read the ingredient list. Hydrogenate anything will yield some sort of trans fat.
Its all about the protein!! Yes but...there's more. I can't deny proteins are great, they are the building blocks of life! However, did you know if you consume too much protein what happens to it? It gets converted to fats and store away in your body for future use as energy. Yup I said fat, your extra unused protein will be turned into fat and store away. Too much of a good thing is bad.
Vitamins and minerals are best when eaten, consumed from your food and not a pill. Foods have more than one vitamin/mineral, it has other nutrients and more often than not, those nutrients in the food will help vitamin/mineral absorption into your body. Just taking supplements will work but will the body take it in as readily? Perhaps or perhaps not but why do you think a tablet of vitamin C has 800% of what your body needs in one pill?? The body does not store extra vitamins and minerals, so 800% is not going to stay. 800% is because without the other supplementing nutrients that usually aids in its absorption (when eaten in food form) the pill will just have to pump loads of vitamin C into the body hoping that something will stick.
and... I am in no way providing expert advice but rather sharing some often missed insights surrounding the complicated world of healthy eating. There's more than meets the eyes and ears and everyone's body works in a different way but at least knowing some pieces of the puzzle will make it easier to put the rest of the puzzle together.
Why all of a sudden with all the nutrition rampage...well because its irritating that there is such a stress on calories and not on nutrition. Nutrition first, calories second. If you're going to eat something, be aware and not guilty. Everything in moderation and you'll be fine. If you want to enjoy a small scoop of ice cream go for it! If you want to have that ice cold beer, enjoy it! If you want to have a cranberry vodka, drink it! Why should calories play a part at all. If you must be bad, enjoy the best of it!! Its when you're eating that entire pint of ice cream in one sitting or drinking a 12 pack or finishing a handle of vodka that then we'd have problems. If you're worried about calories then just don't eat or drink it, no calories at all. None of those things are nutritionally beneficial anyways, eating it will cause more harm than not. If you're going out for a drink...you're about to ingest a depressant! How is that not more serious than 20 more calories!? If the depressant part can be ignored, so can the calories, just enjoy it!
Make good choices, eat in moderation and exercise, and calorie counting is only supplemental, a small part to a bigger picture.
Now having the big picture in mind, here is a little treat I whipped up that will fill your sweet tooth and help your body get some vitamins and minerals, my Very Berry Pudding! I made it the same as I did with my mango pudding recipe but replaced the mango with strawberries and blackberries instead. Tangy but sweet at the same time. Its a little mousse -like which was not what I expected but good all the same.
Adapted from Salu Salo Recipes: Mango Pudding
Makes 4-5 servings
- 1 ½ cup of strawberries
- 1 cup of blackberries
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 envelop of gelatin
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- Puree strawberries and ½ cup blackberries together in a blender, set aside.
- Save remaining ½ cup blackberries to put on the bottom of the pudding
- Mix gelatin in hot water until it dissolves, let it stand for 3 minutes
- Add in sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved, then add in evaporated milk and berry puree. Mix until well incorporated
- Chill overnight in the refrigerator