MHM 8/1/16: Low calorie ≠ healthy

August 1, 2016 in Recovery

Happy Monday babes- I am back!! I plan to write a recap of my weekend on my church retreat, but this mental health Monday post had to come first since I didn’t wanna miss the opportunity to link up with the amazing Julia! Also- can y’all believe it’s already August?! I go back to college this month… how crazy is that! Okay, let’s get started on this post!

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Low calorie does not equate to health, healthy, or better- in any way, shape, or form. This post can go in so many directions but today I choose to focus on one of them. Diet foods. We all know them. Diet soda, those stupid 100 calorie packs, lean cuisine meals, walden farms 0 calorie syrup, splenda, etc. I lived part of my life afraid of food with more calories and heavily relied on some of these things because food with more calories; even if they did have an abundance of nutrients, scared the crap outta me. Funny how we give that power to food, right? I was stuck in the mindset that if I was eating a low calorie option, I was healthier; which was 100% not true!

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Low calorie does NOT mean “healthy”

My past with my eating disorder involved a time where I was obsessed with health and had many orthorexic tendencies, yet also a time where I did not care about the nutrients with food and instead only cared about what the caloric count on the back of the package said. I felt safer having a Hoodsie cup with X amount of calories than having mixed nuts. I felt more comfortable eating a small packaged Rice Krispie square than a spoonful of almond butter. Nut butter, nuts, avocado, oils, granola, dried fruit; basically anything that was not packaged with a definite calorie amount or contained a high amount of calories for a smaller serving made the thoughts in my brain race a mile a minute. Both times in my life: the time where I was fixated on being pure in my food choices and “healthy” and the time where I was so incredibly concerned with the calories of food did not bring me any happiness whatsoever. I mean, how could it? Having your mind in a fog where your mind is either clogged by how healthy you are eating or how many calories you are eating is downright exhausting, and y’all obviously know that so I won’t even begin on that little word vomit.

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Stop letting calories tell you what to do!”

I refuse to buy these 100 calorie snack packs now, those lean cuisine or low calorie frozen meals, powdered peanut butter, walden farms syrup, etc. The thing is, these foods are not any “healthier” just because they have a lower caloric content. Low calorie does NOT equate to “healthy.” I choose to fuel my body with all the fats now- all the nut butter, avocados, oils, nuts, etc. Having trail mix for a snack versus having a 100 calorie snack pack of Oreo thins gives me so much more energy and keeps my body fueled and my mind focused. I don’t want this to come across as me food shaming, but just from personal experience; stepping away from diet foods helped me grow tremendously in several areas throughout my recovery. I  know that this is something many people struggle with: turning to packaged foods with definite calorie amounts and eating only things that they are 100% certain of the caloric amount. For me, I knew that oatmeal/bananas/hummus were all packed full with nutrients, but I felt more at ease eating a pack of fruit snacks or 2 Oreos because I was more certain of how many calories I was eating.

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We are products of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it

Treatment helped me step away from these diet and low calorie foods which was ultimately a huge blessing for me, even though I didn’t see it at the time. The thing is, so many diet foods are not “healthy”at all. Walden farms is packed with splenda which is awful for you, and the company claims it is saving lives by saving the amount of calories you consume in a day. Having some real maple syrup, honey, or agave that does contain calories and all that real, good, wholesome stuff is a lot better in my opinion. And these 100 calorie snack packs will not fill you up at all. If you want some cookies, go get a real cookie. Don’t bother with these tiny little cookies that aren’t even the real thing.

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Maybe this was really just a bunch of rambles that made no sense, as it is a Sunday night and I’m coming back from 3 days of limited sleep; but I really wanted to shed some light on this topic, as it is one thing I struggled with immensely. Throw out those icky Chips Ahoy thin crisps cookies. Get the real things. Buy the real syrup. Don’t fear things just due to their caloric content. Stop labeling food as good and bad. Work to find your balance. And remember that just because something is low calorie does not mean it is “healthy,” even though that’s what the media and magazines are constantly telling us.

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I make time to nourish my mind, body, and spirit. I am abundant in all things that bring me joy. I am worthy of love, and I am full of love for others. I am a powerful force for good in the world. I am beautiful and radiate with light from within.

Take that little mantra right above and carry it throughout your week! 🙂

Now tell me,

Have you struggled with equating low calorie to healthier? 

Hope you all have a great Monday loves!! So happy to be back on the blog, even though I was only gone for three days lol.

Sending alll my love to you guys!! <3 xoxo

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39 Comments

  • Reply Megan Hallier August 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Yes yes yes. I suffered through eating disgusting light yoghurt which is full of artificial sweetners and tastes awful. It is just not worth. Diet food sucks.

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:26 am

      I did the same thing with those yogurts Megan! Chalk full of artificial ingredients and freaky stuff. I love my real yog’s now 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Stephanie August 1, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Hello,
    Well said! I also struggled with calorie counting for many years, I never look at the calories on anything. I think lol, I think that is the problem sometimes overthinking food 🙂
    I also dislike diet drinks, absolutely ridiculous.
    Well, miss Alyssa you are amazing!

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:25 am

      yes mom- overthinking and giving power to food IS the problem! we have both been set free. I love you!!

  • Reply Michelle August 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Great post. So many people just want the lowest calories, and feel if it’s low calories that it must be healthy right? Like exactly what you said with the walden farms syrup! People will eat all those chemicals and artificial sweeteners over the natural and real stuff just because it has 0 calories. Personally I cared more about the healthy food label than knowing the exact amount of calories. But I did choose things that I thought were healthier like light yogurts and pb2 when in reality they are not any better.
    Michelle recently posted…Why Do We Judge? MHM #2My Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:24 am

      it really does bug me when people think they are so “healthy” for eating lower calorie choices! Like you said: the light yogurts and pb2 is not better than the real deal. The real deal will always win 🙂

  • Reply Emily August 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    YES, I have struggled with this so much, and the freedom of just eating the real thing and getting rid of the little ‘low-calorie’ things in order to just eat the real, full-fat, full calorie food is pretty freeing! 🙂
    Emily recently posted…Dark Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal BowlMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:23 am

      It is so freeing em! Giving our bodies the real, wholesome stuff feels great! And not putting so much energy into calories is amazing too <3
      Alyssa recently posted…MHM 8/1/16: Low calorie ≠ healthyMy Profile

  • Reply Allie @ Miss Allie's Kitchen August 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Love this, girl!!!! I also HATE diet foods. It kills me when people come to me because they know I love healthy foods and say “you’ll love this I found a lite/low-fat version”. I call those freaky foods!

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:22 am

      That’s a great term for them- they are freaky foods for sure because they are filled with freaky ingredients!! Thank you for reading Allie 🙂
      Alyssa recently posted…MHM 8/1/16: Low calorie ≠ healthyMy Profile

  • Reply Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet August 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    100% agree Lyss. For me, relying on all those low calorie products led me to develop SERIOUS digestive issues. Because the thing is, to make something low calorie the sugar and fats have to be replaced with a lot of artificial sweeteners and chemicals which really wreak havoc on our tummies. Plain and simple- they’re not meant to be in our bodies.
    Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet recently posted…What I Learned From Eating a Box of Doughnuts in 48 HoursMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:21 am

      Ah yes- those foods led to digestive issues for me too! All the artificial crap kills our stomachs. I’m so glad we both stepped away from those foods Cayanne!

  • Reply Emma Sapio August 1, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Love, love, love that you wrote up on this topic. I find that eating for nutrients (rather than calories) helps my body AND mind perform SO much better.

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:20 am

      YES! eating for nutrients rather than calorie is a great mantra. Thank you for stopping by Emma!!

  • Reply Claire @ My Pink & Green Life August 1, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Yes! I seriously cannot stand diet foods. I didn’t eat a whole lot of them (besides Special K bars which are blehhhhck now!), but I did consciously opt for things with the calorie counts on single serving as opposed to having to measure it out myself and accidentally giving myself too much. Ugh. Real, whole foods are SO much better (real sugar included) 🙂
    Claire @ My Pink & Green Life recently posted…Life Lately: July 2016My Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:19 am

      i used to have those special k crisps so much and I cringe everytime I see them too! Real foods and like you said, real sugar IS so much better 🙂

  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law August 1, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    SO much yes to this post! I actually hate low calorie foods because 1, they tend to taste like rubbish and 2, I kind of feel ripped off because I need HEAAAAAAAAAAPS of calories to fuel my body so there’s kind of no point in bothering to eat something that doesn’t fuel the fire 😉
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: The Best Vegan Brownies (Gluten Free!)My Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:19 am

      ah yes they do taste like rubbish!! So fake and filled with artificial crap. and YES- we do need real wholesome food to fill that fire!

  • Reply Caroline August 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I 1000% agree with what you said here. I was the exact same way, and I cringe now thinking about how many (FREE) Kind bars I turned away, just because I was scared that a granola bar was more than 100 calories. A lot of my favorite foods now are high calorie, but they are so nutrient dense and they truly satisfy and satiate me. The one diet thing I like is Diet Coke, but that is only because I actually like the taste better than the real thing, despite the fact that I’m totally aware that it’s filled with horrible chemicals. Luckily I’m not a big soda fan so I’m only ingesting chemicals every once in a while. 🙂
    Caroline recently posted…Week (Month?) in Review #3My Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:17 am

      I was the same exact way! I relied on those quaker 90 calorie granola bars and only allowed myself to have those. I was missing out on kind bars, cliff bars, and all those other nutrient filled bars!! Thank you for reading Caroline! <3

  • Reply Melanie August 1, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Yess!! I love this message. I struggled with this for a long time, and ditching “diet” foods and eating REAL, wholesome food has helped me so much with my relationship with food. Those 100 calorie packs are so unsatisfying and always leave me wanting more. Real sugar and full fat foods provide so many great nutrients. Plus they taste a million times better! 🙂

    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:48 am

      ah they are SO unsatisfying!! might as well be eating air with those. Thanks for your thoughts on this Melanie!

  • Reply Ellie August 2, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I remember having a 100 calorie pack in high school (my mom sent them in my lunch) and I gagged and threw it away. I totally agree with you that healthy does not have a calorie count. I try to buy foods without labels, they taste better anyway 🙂

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 12:27 am

      YES! healthy has no calorie count 🙂 I agree! non-labeled food does taste better. Thanks for reading Ellie!

  • Reply sarah August 2, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Ugh yes I love this post! I also hate products like Walden Farms or powdered PB, and the 100 calorie packs are the worst. I haven’t had those things in a very long time, but I definitely still struggle with calories in general. I also know I am on the border as far as being orthorexic, I get obsessed with “eating clean.” It really is a daily struggle, but one I know I will overcome!
    sarah recently posted…Recipes to RecreateMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:49 am

      i know you will overcome the struggle of clean eating and being obsessive with calories too. it takes a lot of hard work and rededicating yourself each and every day to beating the demons in your mind, but you can do it!

  • Reply Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It August 2, 2016 at 12:41 am

    YES to all of this. I’m so happy I don’t worry about calories anymore. To me, the words “low calorie” = “chemical shit storm.” If something is low calorie it most definitely is loaded with chemicals, additives, and other stuff that’s really bad for you. I’m also not a fan of “reduced fat” stuff either. Whole is better!!! You’re amazing, love you <3
    Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…Boston Update: Week 1My Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 3:02 am

      hhahaha yes about the “chemical shit storm girl” I totally agree!! Whole fat is better in my opinion too. and girl, YOU are amazing!! I love you!

  • Reply Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves August 2, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Amen, girlfran. It’s funny how so many people with eating disorders initially strive for health, so much so that they start fixating on habits that are anything BUT health. Like eating low-cal everything. It still stings me a little bit these days when my friends say, “It only has X amount of calories! So it’s not too bad.” I try to gently and subtly gear the convo more towards the nutritional value of food.
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted…Work Hard, Rest HardMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 2, 2016 at 2:19 am

      Thank you for your thoughts and reading Alison! I try to do the same with friends. People get so caught up in the caloric content of food versus the nutritional value! I blame a big part of that toward the media

  • Reply Sarah @ BucketListTummy August 2, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Great post – nutrition is way more than calories. Real food and real ingredients are what fuel our bodies. We aren’t fueling our bodies when we choose low-calorie, artificial snacks and meals!
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…My Favorite Sweet Potato Kale PizzaMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:49 am

      yesss, nutrtion is way more than calories!! always better to energize with real foods than all that crap they pack into low calorie stuff!

  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot August 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I think when so many people are pushing calories in and calories out for “healthy” eating, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in calories. I used to count calories, and track everything almost obsessively and get anxious when i didnt know the exact calories in something i was eating.
    Nowadays i enjoy foods and focus on eating good ingredients and being full and satisfied and not on X amount of calories!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…5 Changes You Can Make Right NowMy Profile

    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:50 am

      Love your mindset Heather! Not focusing on how many calories we are having is so great and sets our minds free 🙂

  • Reply Susie @ Suzlyfe August 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Can we also write this about “fat free” and “light” (or “lite) and low carb and sugar free?
    I eat plenty of chemicals, but they are my treats (well, treats is the wrong word. More that I am highly aware that I am choosing them regardless of knowing they are bad for me. I don’t feel guilty, so they aren’t guilty pleasures… but you know what I mean). 80% of my diet is whole food based, and there there is nonsense in there as well.
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    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:52 am

      yes! I am the same way- I know that a cookie from a bakery has chemicals and stuff in it- but I’m going to eat it anyways because I want it and it tastes good! getting wrapped up in it all and obsessive about it never does us good anyways because food shouldn’t have all that power 🙂 thank you for reading this susie!
      Alyssa recently posted…Recap- ACTS Church RetreatMy Profile

  • Reply Kathleen August 2, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I love this as always! I continue to be amazed that diet industry has created such a gulf between “diet” food and truly healthy, nutritious food. Particularly like your point about 100 calorie Chips Ahoy packs. Though calorie content shouldn’t factor entirely into the decision, two real Chip’s Ahoy cookies probably have barely more calories and are infinitely more satisfying than a whole bag of fake cookies.

    • Reply Alyssa August 3, 2016 at 1:53 am

      yes- totally agree with what you said with how the diet industry created that gulf. Calorie content should not be something that is so heavily emphasized, but the diet industry makes sure it is and probably always will be!

  • Reply Top 5 Friday: Why I Stopped Loving Busy and Slowed Down August 5, 2016 at 4:14 am

    […]  Is Low Calorie Food ‘Healthy?’  –  Lyss asks the tough questions. […]

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