Why doesn’t calorie counting work?

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picture: Evan Lorne (stock struggle)

The hard, waxy outer crust of SnackWell’s Devil’s Food Cookie Cake is something I can remember with all five senses: the sound of it as I patted my nails against its hard outer surface, the smell when I broke it, the spongy quality of having crumbs under my fingers and then my teeth. The “cookie” approached the baseline for satisfaction, but did not quite reach it. Throughout my childhood, this was my midday treat, while the rejuvenating formula Claims Being “better than ever” I know that, for example, I’ve always wanted something much better. Over time, and with a slight shift in how food fits into my daily routine, I’ve been able to pull off SnackWell’s world.

One important thing to know about the (hugely lucrative) diet food industry is that it is built on the idea of ​​calories as a meaningful marker of health and nutrition, which it has become clear that it is not. In fact, over the past decade, much has been written to support the idea that calories are basically nothing more than…feelings?

Why doesn’t calorie counting work?

“Even if two people ate the same sweet potato or a piece of meat cooked the same way, they wouldn’t get the same number of calories,” wrote Rob Dunn. Scientific American in 2013. There are many reasons for this, including the size of the gut, the presence of certain digestive enzymes, and overall differences in the metabolism of one person versus another. So this dreaded Nabisco 100-Calorie pack might not even provide 100 calories of sustenance when you need it.

This doesn’t mean that “100 calories” is necessarily the right recipe for middle-aged people.Afternoon snack primarily. as podcast maintenance phase Explained in a recent episode titled “The calorie problemCo-host Aubrey Gordon explains that the analogy has been etched in us since the dawn of the Nutrition Facts label—2,000 calories a day—not an indicator of the amount of fuel the body needs to function properly.

“The FDA says they didn’t actually mean 2,000 calories a day as a dietary guide,” Gordon says. “They said they designed it to be a popular educational tool…that means it was designed to be easy for consumers to understand what is in foods, but it isn’t necessarily meant to be like, ‘Here’s the hard and fast info,’ not to be a recommendation for everyone who needs to eat 2000 calories a day.” (Quotations can be found for the episode over here.)

When the US government began drafting the Nutrition Facts labels that are now on every prepackaged food product, The US Department of Agriculture conducted surveys To find out how many calories Americans typically consume per day. Responses varied widely, with women reporting 1,600-2200 calories per day and men 2,000-3000 calories per day.

Find out what we know about Self-report bias, we can reasonably assume that the actual amount of calories consumed was higher than this, or at least unlikely to fall into the lower end of those ranges. But as Atlantic Ocean explain, the number 2000 was chosen instead of the initially suggested number of 2,350 because it was an orderly, rounded number and less likely to “encourage excessive consumption,” among other reasons. In other words, you are being proactively reprimanded for the amount of food you have not yet consumed, but may need to function in your daily life.

Combine the shaky foundations of the calorie label with our bodies’ uneven processing of those calories, and you have to ask yourself: Why? Why do we bind ourselves to numbers that don’t care if we’re depriving ourselves or not?

For many people, the answer may be that it is in these raw numbers that there is a sense of control. I understand that; We put a lot of hope and prayer in the idea that with enough discipline, our bodies may eventually become efficient machines capable of processing micro-input into micro-output, and a 1:1 relationship between behavior and outcomes 100% of the time. But food is not the only input that our bodies are tasked with processing. He is required to work despite varying levels of stress, sleep and pollution – all of which would require more than a 100-calorie package of potato chips studded with carob chips to endure.

I am not saying people should not think about what they are eating; I’m saying calorie labels aren’t the way to monitor this, and they never have been. It’s a subtle shift in perspective, but it allows you to find your way toward satisfying your hunger. And, of course, understand that your hunger is worth satiating.

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