Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MYTH: "A calorie is a calorie is a calorie."

I was so happy to read about the new Weight Watchers program that was announced a couple of weeks ago, in which the old point system was overhauled, and the whole idea of "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" was upended. Prior to this change, followers could eat whatever foods they want, as long as they remained within their allotted number of points--based on their body type--for the day or week. Although followers may have been consuming fewer calories than before enrollment in the program, they often forfeited healthy, nutrient-dense foods to "save" for unhealthy, energy-dense foods such as desserts and alcohol.

On the other hand, the new system categorizes fruits and most vegetables as point-free foods. Smart idea! Although fruits and vegetables are low in calories, they are still there (even celery...and just to clarify, there is no such thing as "negative calories"). However, they are full of fiber and water and will fill the stomach with tasty nutrients and minerals, leaving less space for the not-so-healthy (and not-so-filling) food that we Americans love. As nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables fill us up, consuming foods that are high in fats, sugars, salt, and refined carbohydrates trick our bodies into wanting more, more, more! See David Kessler's book The End of Overeating for more on the chemical effect of these foods on the brain, causing overeating.

As Weight Watchers has allowed for so many Americans to get on track to a healthier weight, I hope it has the same great influence under its new program, as it allows for greater awareness of nutrition and the importance of a balanced diet. Hooray!

Read about the new PointPlus program here: "Weight Watchers Upends its Point System," NY Times 

DISCLAIMER:  Do not proceed to eat fruit and vegetables all day long. Yes, you will lose weight, but you will be miserable from the bloating, cramps, and great deal of time on the toilet. Rather, include fruits and/or vegetables in every meal to fill you up, but it is important also consume whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins for the body to build strength and energy! Try to construct meals that include a little bit of each of these, and you will be happy and healthy.

1 comment:

Eataly (you know who...) said...

I'm currently miserable from eating too many dried apricots!