Friday, May 11, 2012

Why I don't calorie count: Home cooking edition

I’ve often read that the only solution for the nation is for all of us, or at least the two-thirds of us over the magic 25 BMI, is to carry our notebooks with us, recording every morsel we eat and calculating exactly what our body needs based on some calorie estimator we found on Google. In the past, before I found HAES, I’ve tried it. No longer.

Today at lunch  I fixed myself a big salad with tomato, cucumber, black beans, green onion, radishes and a vinaigrette made with half an avocado. (Note to self: try different type of vinegar next time. Avocado + balsamic = ugly, ugly, ugly.) On the counter, I had a big pot of bean soup going in the crockpot made with homemade broth and grass-fed ground beef. Fresh rosemary, too. Oh my, the kitchen smelled good. Tonight I’ll have it with some cheese and homemade cornbread.

All right, then, weight loss geniuses -- you want to try keeping a calorie count on all that?

How would I even do this on the soup? Calculate the grand total of everything I put into it, measure it out in cups before I serve it, and then measure out my own portion? Do you have any idea what a royal hassle that would be?

If I microwaved one of those sad little 300-calorie "healthy" frozen meals for lunch, instead of my lovely, lovely salad, I'd have one line item in a food log with an exact (if we can trust the food manufacturer) count. I'd also have a belly full of ingredients I cannot pronounce. I'd also be ravenously hungry in an hour.

Before I found HAES, I tried food logging from time to time because, well, I was supposed to, wasn’t I? Breakfast smoothies convinced me it was a really, really bad idea. Typical might be yogurt, flaxseed, apple, half a banana, spinach, cucumber, avocado and milk. All to be written down and looked up and recorded. Took me longer logging it than it took to make and drink the smoothie and wash the blender. One of those cloyingly sweet, artificially pink ones from the grocery store? Just read the back of the label and you're done. And again, hungry in an hour.

I was raised by a Mother Who Did Not Measure in the kitchen, and if I ever wrote a cookbook, half the ingredient amounts would say "what looks right" with the other half specified "as much as you like." (I like about 4 cloves garlic, minimum.) With the exception of baking, I rarely measure anything. So not only would I have to write the novel that was my dinner afterward, I'd have to slow down on the front end and try to figure out how much of everything I was using.

I'm not going to give up my varied, healthful, wonderful food just so I can reassure someone that I colored within the lines and stayed under my allotted number of calories. I will not give up the pleasure I take in cooking creatively out of what I have on hand. I'm not going to suck the joy out of my meals.

Not worth it. So not worth it. Not doing it.


  1. Oh, man....I needed to hear all that. I feel the same way. The thing is, both of us do the "right thing" in that we're eating whole foods, which don't come with a handy label. But they are much better for you, and taste better, to boot.

    I'm with you! Soldier on!

  2. I've had some of that cooking of yours! Yummmm....

    I've gotten to the point where I can't stand the taste of canned soup, even. It's amazing how much better homemade tastes.