Calorie [ka-luh-ree](noun): an amount of food having an energy-producing value of one large calorie
That’s the definition of a calorie according to Merriam-Webster. Not “something that makes you gain weight”, not “something you should track and be hyper-aware of”, and certainly not “something to be afraid of”. Let’s look at what calories are, though: energy-producing. Food, quite literally, is fuel for our bodies.
You wouldn’t try to drive your car for nine hours and expect it to run efficiently, would you? No. Then why would you expect your body to work at its fullest potential without fueling it with food?
Mood, energy levels, ability to concentrate, muscle strength… it all starts on the end of the fork. Food is the primary source to help meet our physical and psychological needs. To get into the nerdier side of it, the body’s preferred source of energy is in the form of glucose, which is mainly supplied by carbohydrates. In fact, the nervous system and red blood cells rely exclusively on glucose to function. Without this fuel, the body will have to resort to breaking down muscle and protein tissue to use as energy.
Unfortunately, some people have tried to turn calories into something to be afraid of. Wanna know why? Because it’s a business tactic. Companies like WeightWatchers, MyFitnessPal, and Noom (the list could go on forever) thrive on the fact that people think counting calories is “healthy”.
Yes, I used MyFitnessPal once. I was so obsessed with tracking my calories that it sucked all the joy right out of life. If you have that app on your phone, try to delete it. I promise you there is a feeling of liberation and freedom once that app is off your phone. If you still want to track what you eat, I’d suggest the app called RecoveryRecord. RecoveryRecord is an inconspicuous app where you can log your meals without the calorie count, along with your thoughts and feelings about each meal. Honestly, it would be good practice for being mindful before, during, and after meals. Practice viewing food not as a number, but as a mechanism to enhance your life.
Long story short, let’s change the narrative that calories are something that we should be afraid of. Food always has, and always will be, nourishing. Sure, some are more filled with nutrients than others, but all foods provide your body with some sort of value.