Friday, February 28, 2014

All calories are not created equal

I'm not an unhealthy person, really. I rarely eat fast food. I'm not a fan of soda...I don't even handle carbonation well, let alone the caffeine in the Diet Coke that is so very popular around these parts. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. I exercise very somewhat regularly. I tend to cook and eat homemade prepared meals rather than freezer or microwave fare.

That being said, I do have one pretty big BUT....

I have a sweet tooth. A raging addiction to sugar. Which means that when I'm snacky, I tend to go for some kind of candy or baked goods rather than fruits and veggies. Not always. But frequently.

So when my neighbor proposed an 8-week "get healthy" challenge, I was interested. Extreme or fad diets are not for me. I have a hard time visualizing how they work out in the end. Oh sure, you'll work super hard and be super focused and intense for some predetermined amount of time, and certainly you will lose weight. But then how do you transition back into normal life after that? How do you maintain? I was more interested in finding something that would help me ease into a new, healthier lifestyle. And this plan seemed to have many of the same goals that I was already trying to make into habits...wrapped into a nice little challenge with a built in group of friends who support and/or commiserate with you. Plus, did I mention there is a monetary prize for the winner?

The plan? Daily points for things such as eating 3 veggies and 2 fruits. Cutting out sugary treats (except for 1 cheat day a week). Drinking 64 ounces of water. Exercising 5 days a week. Keeping a food journal. Quit eating by 9:00 at night. All things that we've long been told would be beneficial to our health, yes? And we even get points for each pound lost, or for simply maintaining.

We're finishing up week 4. Halfway through. I have not been keeping track of my calories...only specific foods eaten. I've never wanted to be a calorie counter. I don't know...something about it just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I'm worried that it would be too easy for me to become obsessive about what I ate and how much I weighed. I don't want to be consumed with each and every tiny morsel that I put into my mouth. However, I have become more aware of calories in general. It's a little bit discouraging to realize just how many calories even a piece of fruit such as a banana or pear can contain. But yesterday I discovered something that made me laugh.

On our neighborhood "get healthy challenge" Facebook page, there have been recent rumblings about how many calories raw almonds contain. Now we all know that almonds have long been touted as one of the world's healthiest foods. So to hear complaints about needing to eat fewer because of the calorie count got me a little curious.

And hey, yeah. 190 calories for 1 serving...a serving being 1/4 cup. Hmmm.
Curiosity continuing to lead me on, I searched out and found a package of my favorite dark chocolate acai/blueberry candy sitting empty in my bedside table drawer.

The results from my search? See for yourself.
One serving equaling 1/4 cup of these particular chocolates at least, is 180 calories! Less calories than the almonds! Albeit only by a small margin.

Clearly all calories are not created equal. Foregoing the chocolates for the almonds is the obvious healthy choice...if you are indeed going for health over simply losing pounds. But oh, how I enjoyed that little bit of irony!

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