Calories: our love/hate relationship

The calorie gets a lot of undeserved flak. We rely on calories for survival and yet they have a less-than-desirable connotation.  Why? Maybe we mindlessly devour them by the hundreds (or unfortunately, even thousands!) at fast food restaurants.  Maybe we ignore their existence on weekends.  Maybe we resent the way they turn into extra pounds and inches around our waists. Mostly, we think of calories negatively, as the little enemy of our best intentions and healthier diets.

But a calorie isn’t good or bad, delicious or vicious.  It’s a unit of energy.  And everyone needs energy every day for body cells and organs to function.   Simply put, the more active you are, the more energy you need.

So how many calories do YOU need in a day? It depends on several factors—gender, height, weight and age, as well as physical activity. Many individuals actually underestimate the amount of calories they need each day and don’t consume enough food as a result. This can begin the unpleasant cycle of dieting and fighting extreme hunger as well as feelings of deprivation, overeating and guilt – only to start all over again.

Trusting your body to help you eat the right amount of calories isn’t as hard as you think:

  • Plan to eat when you’re beginning to feel hungry
  • Follow the 1+2+3 solutions
  • Use thoughtful eating principles for your elective calorie choices
  • Stop when you’re beginning to feel full
  • Start all over again when you’re beginning to feel hungry

The surprising result: You will be able to eat more satisfying portions, more often. Your nutrition will increase, and your calorie intake will better match your energy output.

Want help to accurately figure out your calorie needs? Register for an appointment with one of our RDNs.