Eating Healthy is About More Than Just Calories

Anda T. writes about her weight loss struggles, victories and every day life at She also runs in her spare time when not chasing a toddler, cooking, cleaning, working and trying to take over the world.

I had no idea how little I knew about nutrition until I started to count calories. Sure, I had a general concept that 2000 calories was acceptable for a day of food. But, really getting down to the nitty gritty, I had no idea how much of each type of food I should have been eating.

I saw no problem with eating a salad. And I’m sure you won’t either, if you’re thinking of just a small green salad. That was not my salad. My salad was iceberg lettuce (no nutritive value whatsoever), cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers (a few good things), sunflower seeds and gobs and gobs of ranch dressing. That was healthy to me. That was my effort of eating light.

That was not eating light. That was eating a 500 calorie salad with little or no protein, vitamins, or good, healthy fats to show for it. It wasn’t until I started to track my food did I start to see the calories add up, and the weight go right along with it. I had no idea what were healthy fats and what were bad fats. (Luckily, I had stayed away from trans fats as a byproduct of a lack of a gallbladder, but I still couldn’t point one out if you asked me.)

As I started to cook for my family and myself, I started to see what the difference was in food. A calorie is not always equal. Sure, I could cook with vegetable oil, breadcrumbs and ground round. Did I make food? Yes! Did I make food with no preservatives? Yes! Did I make healthy food? No.

There is where the difference lies. It wasn’t until an issue of Cooking Light ended up in my hands did I see what the difference in cooking healthy was to just cooking. Through their recipes, I made easier and lighter versions of the family favorites. I learned that avocados are still good for you, but maybe not say, THREE of them. I learned that olive oil is your friend, and sometimes you can use breadcrumbs, as long as you bake them rather than fry. I learned what a serving size is. Really want a shocker? Go to your pantry. Get some crackers and measure out what the serving size is. Not the serving size per container, the serving size. See? It’s 3 crackers. That is useless food right there.

Even today, I skim recipes to check for good foods. The recipe might say it’s a mere 400 calories per serving, but that doesn’t mean it’s 400 good calories. Condensed can of salty soup? Nope. Processed cheese? Definitely not. Canned meat? Goodness, no. Not in my house.

Read your labels. Learn about food. It’s just about calories in and out. It’s about good food. It’s about good for you food.


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