Loosening the Grip on Calories

In plenty of situations it is appropriate to focus on exact numbers. But evidence is starting to confirm something I’ve long believed: For the purposes of weight management, longevity, and quality of life, we likely overestimate the importance of calculating calories. What is more important then? I suggest, looking at the larger picture.

It’s Not Always the Food that Makes Us Eat

What is more likely to cause overeating – a quick bite on the run or a sit-down meal in a relaxed atmosphere? Surprisingly, it’s the rushed eating event that most often seduces us to overindulge. Why? For a number of reasons, most of which we are completely unaware of, according to scientists who study our eating behavior.

Drowning in Calories

Obesity is much like drowning. Our food supply is willfully manipulated to maximize our food consumption and, of course, the money we are willing to spend along the way. But how much sense does it make to acknowledge the calamitous effects of childhood obesity, yet continue to peddle multi-colored marshmallows to 6-year-olds as “part of a complete breakfast”? That’s analogous to holding people accountable for their own swimming, yet actively encouraging them to try out riptides. It is, in a word, hypocritical. With regards to weight and health, America runs on constant hypocrisy.

A Responsibility Not to Get Sick

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), no other current health threats spread as fast as so-called ‘non-communicable diseases’ (NCDs) like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. What distinguishes these from infectious illnesses is that humans bring them mostly upon themselves through poor diet and lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, the impact is very real and there is no letting up in sight.