I have been following the debate about adding how much activity it takes to burn a serving of packaged food to labels lately. I mulled this over while on a two hour hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, Italy recently, hmmmmm. These two quaint towns were connected by a long trail that snaked over and around hills, dales and mountains, through vineyards, lemon orchards, ascending and descending ancient stone stairways and more. When it was all said and done my activity app indicated that I took over 17,000 steps and climbed the equivalent of 99 flights of stairs, burning 575 active calories that day – phew. My quads were singing opera and my body was crying for more than just calories….
Anyone who knows me will recall that I have used active calorie figures to illustrate key points in various blog posts: ‘Blizzard to cool you’ and ’Summertime Scoop’. I have written extensively that awareness is bliss. However, when all is said and done, I am a strong advocate that there is certainly more to food than simply the calories.
By taking this narrow minded view, it’s easy to overlook the important functions of every macro and micronutrient, mineral, fibre and water that our bodacious bodies require to function optimally every single day. Each cell has a vital role to play. When you think about it, our relationship with food is the most intimate. It has life, health and wellness sustaining roles from the billions of reactions that occur as we go about our day. Each cell doesn’t only rely on energy, but also a wide array of nutrients to make our masterful machine hum.
By only focusing on calories in food we could inadvertently over simplify some bargaining to cut back. For example, you might choose diet soda pop to drink at mealtime as a quick way to save energy instead of a glass of milk. Let’s compare the two: that brown bubbly no cal drink is a concoction made in a great big vat with only the ability to hydrate you. Although the company calls it “the real thing” it is far from real, in any natural sense. Compare it with a glass of milk, which is also hydrating. In addition to the fluid, it is a powerhouse of nutrient richness – with easily absorbed calcium, Vitamin D, satiating protein, plus a vast array of 12 essential nutrients. Talk about choosing your calories wisely! From a nutrient richness point of view, milk beats diet pop hands down.
So if you keep your abacus close-by only counting calories instead of your variety of nutrients from naturally nutrient rich foods, you’re really short changing your well being where your overall nutritional status is concerned. Adding active calories to burn a serving of food doesn’t tell you how nourishing a food is and could give consumers the wrong message. If you like a numbers game, count your nutrients. While you’re at it count your blessings too. Your body, mind and spirit will surely be filled up to be the absolute best it can be. You can count on that!