Calories, Calories


How often have you heard someone say “Oh, that’s only 250 calories, it’s not so bad.” I’ve heard it A LOT and it really gets on my nerves. What if a calorie total wasn’t good or bad? What if we could strip all the morality out of how many calories we consume? Unfortunately, calorie talk is NOT going away any time soon. It’s posted on menus, plastered on magazine covers, and someone you know is probably counting them. But it’s not a total bummer if you can start to practice looking at them more objectively and with less judgment. I’ll show you.

Example #1- Lean Cuisine Meal = 310 calories*

Old way of thinking: 310 calories for lunch isn’t so “bad.”
New way of thinking: Wow, I notice that when I eat a 310 calorie Lean Cuisine for lunch I’m not very satisfied, Ifeel hungry again an hour later, and I’m still thinking about food quite a bit. If I want to stay full for longer than an hour, I either need more foodor I should choose something different.

Example #2- Turkey and Avocado Sandwich from Au Bon Pain =650 calories

Old way of thinking: Oh, I was really “bad” at lunch today. That sandwich had over 600 calories. According to Shapemagazine, I should eat less than 400 calories at lunch. I’m so disgusting. I have no self-control. Why couldn’t I eat just half?
New way of thinking: The sandwich tasted delicious. The balance of carbohydrate, fats, and proteins left me feelingsatisfied. I feel a lot fuller than after I eat a Lean Cuisine. Plus I noticed that I have more energy and didn’t think about eating again for a few hours.If I need something to tie me over for a few hours, this is a great choice.

See the difference? We have to get out of our heads and into our bodies. How do certain choices make you feel? Energized or sluggish. Satisfied or leftwanting more. Happy tummy or upset tummy. If we can let go of the idea o food being good or bad and tune in to the physical experience of eating it, we’llbe headed in the right direction!

Have any personal experiences? Please share!

*Disclaimer: I totally made those calorie numbers up.


Who determines the right number of calories? You and your body. Marci RD discusses calories in eating disorder recovery or when you want to stop dieting.

7 thoughts on “Calories, Calories

  1. Marci, After a girls’ weekend away, full of food, body, and calorie talk, it is so refreshing to remember another perspective. I wish more women would adopt your mentality– the world would be a calmer, more balanced place. And it made me laugh to read

    that you made up the calories 🙂 Thanks, kara

  2. Too many people eat too little during the day and then are crazy hungry and unsatisified later, and they procede to eat the whole pantry! Great post Marci!!

  3. Kara: you bring up a good point. When gals get together they can spend much of their time obsessing about dieting, food, and negative body talk. I’m glad you found my post refreshing! We as women need to brainstorm ways to interact and talk with one another

    in a healthy way (as well as learn to talk about things aside from calories and cellulite!). 🙂 Carol: You are totally spot on. Often people are too busy or trying to be “good” during the day and then compensate by over-doing it at night. Advocating for balance

    throughout the day is so important!

  4. I LOVE this post, Marci! I used to think that in order to avoid being triggered I would have to avoid calorie labels at all costs (which is impossible, as you mention), but now I am more able to know a caloric amount without passing judgment on my food

    choices. It is empowering to know that I can listen to my body and eat mindfully instead of basing my meal choices on a number! I notice that people tend to assume that less caloric means healthier, but this isn’t the case at all! 100 calorie packs are only

    100 calories, but that doesn’t make them a healthier snack than something more caloric that actually provides one’s body with essential nutrients.

  5. Thanks Jess! You’re right, a calorie count doesn’t let us know much about the quality of the food or how it will make us feel physically. We need to use different information than just numbers when making choices.

  6. Great post, Marci! I think it’s also helpful to recognize that ex-dieters think they should be consuming many fewer calories per day than they really need. (And magazines like Shape do not help!!) Recognizing that was a huge step forward for me!

  7. Great point Kate!! This is so true. The numbers that we see in popular media (and even by dietitians) give us totally skewed ideas of how much fuel we need!

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