Calories count

Do you know how many calories you are consuming? Do you track your food, or read the labels?

I know it can be so overwhelming. But first, let’s start with what calories really are. A calorie is a unit of energy, and it’s essential for health. Everyone’s calorific needs are different, depending on lifestyle, and it’s key that you get the right amount.

Actually, what makes up your calorie content in one meal is way more important than how much you are eating. The quality of your food will always increase the quantity of your food, too. By that I mean that when you eat a huge bowl of green salads with some sort of protein and some healthy whole food fat (like avocado or nuts) you get the same amount of calories that you’d get from one small hamburger — just with the salad you are giving your body enough nutrients, with the hamburger you are not. So if you eat quality food, you can eat more of it.

Food is everywhere. In the U.S. on average more than 11 percent of calories come from fast foods, and 50 percent of people have at least one sugary drink a day. And please don’t think you’re fine if you are consuming diet products, because these foods are low in nutrient value with so called “empty calories.” Simple sugar is the same.

Think this way: Why do we need to eat? Our body is always working hard to maintain homeostasis, and it needs a certain amount of nutrients — macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). When the amounts you eat are not in equilibrium, you will always be hungry because your body is still waiting for you to give it the nutrients you need. That’s why it’s really important to understand and give your body the correct amount of nutrients.

A perfect, healthy diet is not just for losing weight. If you want to live long and maintain maximum health then we all need to consider what we are eating on a daily basis. The good news is you can change and start regaining your health any time.

How do you know which foods are healthy?

Actually it’s so simple, you just need to be aware how you feel after your meal. You should really feel that your food is giving you energy — you shouldn’t get a stomach ache or want to nap after eating, it you do then you’re not eating the right foods.

Most of our lives are so busy, during the day we sometimes don’t even know how much or what we eat. A few tips that may help you:

w Sit down at the dinner table or in the kitchen to eat — not standing, in your car or at your desk

w Eat slow, so that you can appreciate what you’re eating

w Drink water while eating — remember 60 percent of our body of water

w Finish your meal just before you are completely full

w After every meal monitor how you feel, especially notice your energy level shortly after you eat. Do you feel great? Or do you feel low energy? Try this and pretty soon you will know which foods are good for you.

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com,Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892

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