We’ve all been there: standing confused in the grocery store reading ingredient labels on the packaged food we think we need. Protein, fiber, and carbohydrates in grams-per-serving trick us into thinking there’s not enough or too much as we decide, “to buy or not to buy?” That is the real question.
For years, diet-culture has trained us to look at macro-nutrients as the next big thing we should consume (or avoid) in order to host a leaner figure. Advertisers over sell audiences in outrageous proportions and have confused the modern consumer about what is healthy and how much of what we should be eating. When did it become so complicated? Another real question.
[In Usher Voice] These are my confessions of a former “Micro-Macro-Manger:”
Calories. For some, these are numbers to live by, and for others they’re the bane of our existence. While science will forever remain true to “calories-in-calories-out,” the types of calories we actually need to thrive are hardly emphasized.
Since my later college years, it seemed that I was rotating through diets emphasizing different nutrients that were supposedly “good & bad” for me. One day, I’m not allowing myself potatoes and the next week I eating lots of potatoes. One month I’m giving up all sugar, and the next month I’m adding tons of protein. It seems like a 100-yard dash to the next faddy food craze these days, if you ask me.
Even though I’ve gone yo-yo for fad-diets in the past, I’ve learned more about the food I’m consuming and have switched over to a more intuitive & sustainable way of living allowing me to have what I’ve always wanted:
Freedom from Food.
A calorie is not JUST a calorie.
“Calories in, calories out,” they say, but counting a perfect amount of calories doesn’t make that idea a true assessment of healthy gains. Just focusing on the calorie content of foods and disregarding the metabolic effects they have is a highly flawed way of thinking. (HealthLine.com) All calories are not created equal, in fact there are many different factors to health other than your consumption of a certain amount of calories.
No food label, no problem.
You know that one area of the grocery store called the “produce section?” Most of the food you’ll find in that area doesn’t even have a food label. That’s because it doesn’t need one. An apple is simply an apple, but contains all the macro & micro-nutrients in order for the body to process it thoroughly. When eating whole food sources, there’s no need to count exactly what you’re eating because plant synergy works together and your body knows what to do with it.
Let go of that stressful thinking.
Does counting your food intake give you hives? Are you worried about what your next meal will look like? Is going out to social gatherings something you have to strategically plan for? Then you might be a micro-macro-manager. While there are exceptions to precise eating (i.e. body building), I don’t believe that we were created to count calories and macro-nutrients as a lifestyle. For some people, the simple diligence of counting your intake can encourage eating disorders & obsessive behavior. Been there, done that, and it’s kinda stressful. Your mental health is vital for body changes. Don’t take your intake TOO seriously.
So what should you be looking for on packaged food labels? First of all, stick with whole foods as much as possible. If you must get something packaged (like pasta, plant-based milk, and vegan-extras), instead of counting the grams of proteins & carbs, make sure the ingredients are what they say they are, and avoid overly processed ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, enriched flour, MSG, and make sure to buy the non-GMO stuff.
Still deciding if you need to continue Micro-Macro-Managing as a daily practice?
Check out these three questions from FitnessBlender.com:
Is it sustainable?
Does it make you feel good; energetic and healthy and like your best self?
Does it interfere with your quality of life or cause you stress? For instance, during a dinner out with friends, would you find yourself stressing out while eating foods that you haven't had a chance to calculate values for, or don't know the macro breakdown of?
**Professional side note: I know there is a lot to cover on the topic of nutrients and how food affects our bodies. Not only does each food interact with our bodies differently, each of our bodies interacts with food differently. Hormone levels, genetics, and environment play a big factor into how are bodies interact with food. So if you’re at your wits end of “healthy solutions,” please see a super-duper professional who can help you get educated on your own body. Physical awareness is a big step in the right direction.
Schedule a FREE consultation with me if you need a place to start.