I apologize if I’m giving the carb counters a coronary, but yesterday I did definitely eat a triple decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast. PB&J toast is my go-to morning meal when I’m running late and need to eat in the car (not ideal, believe you me).
This carby creation was, believe it or not, calorically motivated. I sometimes pride myself on not counting calories, as if this somehow makes me better than those who do. It doesn’t. Emily wrote an excellent post a while back about Calorie Counting and the Blurry Line that touched on her experience with calorie counting and explained how beneficial it can be.
In the true sense of calorie counting–reading labels, tallying up, keeping track–I really do not do it. After years and years of restrictive eating and obsessing calorie tracking plus entering a new field of study where food recalls and calorie counting are a huge part of my soon-to-be career, I would wager that I can estimate the calorie content of most foods within about a 25 calorie margin of error without looking at labels. (Hooray for meeeee, right?) If I were a super hero, my power would be spouting off nutrition facts for unlabeled foods.
My point in saying this is that although I don’t meticulously track every calorie I consume, I am fully aware of what and how much I eat. And I use this to my nutritional advantage. Mostly I use it to make sure I’m eating enough and not to limit anything. Say, for example, when I’m throwing together breakfast and I realize that the two pieces of bread I’m using only total 120 calories. Add some nut butter and jelly and my weakass breakfast would hover just below 300 calories. I’d be hungry by 10am. My general rule of thumb is that my body needs about 100 cal/hr to get through stretches without food. So if I’m going from 7am to 12pm without food, my breakfast better be about 500 calories or I’ll be whining for a snack before my first class is even over.
So I use my knowledge of calorie content to bulk up my meals so they’ll do what they’re supposed to: sustain my body throughout the day. That’s the whole point of food, isn’t it? To keep us healthy and strong. To fuel us. When did food become the enemy? Working with food rather than against will help you work with your body rather than against it. I love that about food.
Consuming enough calories will help your body do that. Knowing how to estimate (or count) calories will help you make smart choices.
My smart choice yesterday morning was to add a third slice of bread to my sandwich. It was awesome and kept me full.