Thursday, September 28, 2023

“Counting calories is counting tragedy”

As a little girl, I often found myself under the guardianship of my grandmother when my parents were busy with work and school commitments.

In my grandmother’s kitchen, every food item was stocked for the sole purpose of being eaten in abundance. Calorie counting in her day was a very foreign concept.

My whole family of aunties, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers ate from the same pot, served the same big portions. Grandmother would wonder why her children never gained weight and even wish they could because in those days it was even attractive to have some meat on your bones. We would slaughter a goat and eat it to the very last piece and none of it would make us fat.

What a paradox!

This week, I took it upon myself to search further into this calorie counting culture that has infested our society so badly these days and see if there is any misdirection at all in the information we get about eating healthy.

This pushed me towards food and nutrition publications of all sorts, where I ran into the amazing work of a lady called Isabel De Los Rios, among others.

She is a Nutrition Expert and author of a recent book called The Diet Solution Programme.
When I opened her book, I was nearly at the end of my search, which, at that stage, just seemed so fruitless. What is so unique about her work is that she encourages us through it to stop dieting and to start eating and living.

I think where dieting is concerned we are all really tired of empty promises.

What Isabel says is that we do not need to be counting calories every time we sit down to have a meal. I also think that sort of takes away the joy that eating is supposed to bring.

Isabel continues to inform us that weight loss consciousness should really begin when we start making our grocery shopping lists. I believe this basically means that you can not eat what you do not have in your pantry.

In this book we are reminded that the bad foods to guard against are the ones with lots of chemicals and preservatives like the fizzy drinks, ice creams and most of the convenience meals. A wise shopping list in this regard, she says, would be anything like rice, sweet potatoes, steak, original butter, nuts, steak, the obvious fruit and vegetables and so on. In other words, anything that is sold in its most natural form is a must have in the kitchen.

The core of this woman’s work is to educate people across the world everyday against crush diets, crazy diet scams, weight loss pills, supplements, calorie counting and deliberate starvation. She has made it her life’s purpose to teach people how to put the right food together in a delicious way and encourage them to eat such combinations in abundance, just like our grandmothers used to do back in the olden days.

What is the point in going on a diet, doing everything by the book and still not seeing any results?

Is it not time for us as a society to reflect on how we were raised by our African parents (the diet free way) and try to emulate what they did? Everybody gets to a point where it gets difficult to keep the motivation at peak because they see no results and therefore get demoralised.
In the case of weight, when it comes back it’s even worse than before.

Maybe we are too quick to get into diet situations that we know very little about. I think it is very worthwhile to do some thorough research about food these days before we take such crucial steps like dieting.

More and more young children are falling into the same trap in scary numbers just from observing their adult role models. They have become so conscious of what they eat but, with very limited knowledge, they need adults like us to come to their aid by demonstrating responsible eating habits.

If we create a disordered culture in which to raise our children, we can only expect a disorderly generation therefore eating disorders should not be taken lightly.

An obsession with counting calories has proven over and over again to lead its victims into some kind of disorder and I don’t think that anybody wishes to see the same thing happen to a child.

I find that the minute I start counting calories, I get even hungrier and even end up binge eating. The binge eating then kicks off a paranoia where I start believing that since I ate too much, it means I gained even more weight therefore I need an even stricter calorie count, the vicious cycle then continues.

It is on us to continuously improve the way we eat and live, so why continue eating less when gurus in that department say otherwise? “Don’t eat less, eat more wisely,” advices Isabel.


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