disclaimer: this information is not perfect.
it is rather, in my own words, as i understand it.
when i first met with dr. tom about, oh, a year-and-a-half ago, he said: no food is bad. no calorie is bad. calories keep us going. and if you're starving the calories in a twinkie are just as capable as saving your life as the calories in an avocado.
and then he went on to say, calories do not carry equal weight (no pun intended. well, kind of intended).
what he meant was this: if you are eating normally (not starving yourself) it is perfectly reasonable to sit down and have a dinner consisting of 3,000 calories. the body, because it is fed enough each day, recognizes the unnecessary influx of calories and disposes of them quickly (essentially, the body doesn't need the calories, so it doesn't use them). meaning, after that luxurious and indulgent dinner, you might wake up in the middle of the night sweating (one of the ways in which the body rids itself of the calories quickly and painlessly). this is not to say that a 3,000+ calorie dinner should be consumed on a daily or even (relatively) regular basis.
i'm not sure i can list all of the many steps i've undertaken in order to come to terms with and overcome (still working on this) my eating disorder. i do know i have had a different focus (or priority) for each week. one week i made going to the gym a top priority. the next i tried to eat my food slowly. another, i drank copious amounts of water.
however, from the very start i armed myself with knowledge and we all know they say knowledge is power and the thing is, they're right.
so nyc passed a health provision requiring restaurants with 15+ outlets nationwide to post the caloric information on the menu in the same font and size as the item itself. so they're arming us with information. good, right? well, the thing is, they're arming us with the information they want us to have. calories are not the only (or even most important) factor, but counting calories feeds (pun definitely intended) into the billion dollar diet industry quite nicely.
so, this is what i know. and this is why i believe calorie counting to be detrimental. eating less than 1,800 calories a day (over any consistent and extended period of time) is a way of starving your body. and it literally changes the way the body responds to food--the pleasure center shifts. suddenly sweets become much more appealing (because they have more calorie per square inch and since the body knows you want give it as much food as it needs, it tries to get the most bang for its buck). this is not to say a person who eats normally doesn't have about 1,200 calories some days. but the next they might have 2,200. the body balances it out. the body figures it out. the body is always maneuvering this tight-rope act and the body does not like when we get in it's way. because, guess what? the body is smarter than we are.
i did weight watchers and ate about 1,000 calories a day. that's what they told me to do. i lost a lot of weight. and my poor body went into shock. i have spent four years trying to recover from those two months.
i lost my period immediately. i told many a doctor about this. each told me not to worry. not one of them thought to look at my diet.
i tried the cookie diet. i ate about 800 calories a day.
these are diets recommended by doctors. monitored by doctors. what's wrong with this picture?
in the end i don't even know how many fads and diets and tricks and torments i put my body through. these are the things i don't really talk about. these are the things that bring me shame.
when i did the cookie diet (for all of about a week--and to this day i can't even stomach the smell of balsamic vinegar, which i put on a bed of greens each night) i had to have several tests to ensure my body was up for it. the cost of the tests showed up on my insurance. that year when i retuned home for summer vacation, my mother pulled out the sheet and asked me what had happened (the cost, but not the details had been disclosed). honestly, i think she feared i'd aborted a pregnancy. that was a low point.
so the government wants to deal with the issue of obesity? thank god, they need to deal with it. unfortunately they might just be going about it in the wrong way.
want to lose weight? honestly, do you want to count calories everyday for the rest of your life? if you can't honestly say yes, then it's never going to work. instead, eat real food. unprocessed food. fruits and vegetables and meat. foods that when you see the list of ingredients you can pronounce each one. wanna know why you should avoid mcdonalds? let me give you a hint...its not the 540 calories in a thing of fries, it's all the chemicals you can't pronounce. you want to know why the government isn't pushing this? because it would obliterate the food industry as we know it.
dr. bob constantly gives this advice when interviewed for magazines and newspapers. his articles are published about 1/3 of the time. why so infrequently? because what he says stands in direct opposition to the advertisements that keep these publications afloat--you know, diet ads and potato chip ads and the like?
do you see now, it's a political issue. with the government fighting the lobbyists and no real change in sight.
so it's up to you. arm yourself with information. figure out what works best for you and your family. if you have a meal that by itself is over the daily recommended intake, don't sweat it, because (guess what) if your eating normally you're body will sweat it out for you. no harm done.