Blaming overweight Americans for not counting calories is wrong
A recently published consumer study revealed that few people regularly count calories.* The article goes on to say that “keeping track [of calories] is the crux of controlling your weight,” and that “research shows that people who keep track of calories lose twice as much weight as those who don’t.” Puleeze!
If you peek under the covers of the research, you will learn that the research sponsor is the International Food Information Council Foundation, an organization funded by the food, beverage and agricultural industries. This is the food and beverage industry saying, “Obesity in our communities is not our fault. It’s the fault of all those fat people. Fat people are fat because they do not take the personal responsibility to document and calculate daily their caloric consumption of the ridiculously fattening foods and lifestyle we promote and sell. They are fat because they refuse to resist our irresistible products and marketing.”
The truth is, for almost all people, counting calories is a burdensome, time-consuming, mind-numbing and, in many cases, futile exercise. And it is unnecessary.
Counting calories vs portions
You do need to know what is in the food you are eating, enough so you can avoid or limit those foods that have significant amounts of added sugars, added fats and refined grains. And, of course, healthy eating requires eating appropriate amounts and a reasonable balance of foods from among the food groups. That takes some knowledge, but not much.
Rather than counting calories, counting portions would do the trick and is much, much easier. And after a while, once you have a feel for what is an appropriate amount of food, even that becomes unnecessary.
None of this requires calorie counting or even knowing the nutritional content of food. You do not have to be a nutritionist or a mathematician to eat a healthy diet.
Of course, just because you are on to the food manufacturers’ game of lure-then-blame, that doesn’t make you immune to the game. It has been a very successful game because we are so lure-able. So be careful out there.
*Study: Few Americans accurately monitor calories, USA Today 5/5/11