Nutrients vs Calories


“The kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked chocolate cake. As I turned it out onto the plate, the smell intensified. Impatient with desire, I iced it while it was still warm. The rich, thick chocolate frosting dripped down the sides and soaked into the cake, melting into it as it touched the warm surface. This was going to be beautiful. My mouth watered in expectation.” (Extract from my book, Death by Chocolate Cake – My Journey Out of Obesity.)


I loved chocolate cake; it was my favourite food. I enjoyed the sugar rush and the taste of the sickly-sweet icing. As I travelled home in the school bus, I would think about the food waiting for me – chocolate, lollies, chips, biscuit, and soft drinks. I thought it made me happy. In my younger years much of my diet mostly consisted of foods low in nutrients such as processed foods, baked goods, sugary items, and soft drinks.


Although I ate a lot, much of what I ate was not healthy for me. My body did not heal well, and I regularly suffered from skin infections and sores. My story shows that we can be obese and malnourished at the same time. We need nutrients in our diet for our health. Nutrients contribute to our wellness. In fact, nutrients are more important to our health than low calories and weight loss. Not all low-calorie foods are good for us. What we should be looking for is nutrient density.


With the pressure to look like a model, it’s tempting to reduce calories to lose weight. But weight is not all there is to health, and not all calories are created equal. Calories are a measure of energy and can be found in both protein and sugar. However, the same amount of protein takes longer for us to digest than the same amount of sugar. This is because protein requires more energy for our body to process it.


On my journey to health, I discovered that when I ate nutrient-dense foods I ate less food overall. This was because my stomach felt satisfied for longer. The quality of the food I ate mattered more for my satiation and for my health. My weight loss did not come from limiting calories but focussing on a healthy diet. My motto is: live a healthy lifestyle and let the weight take care of itself.


If you want to eat a nutrient dense diet, try foods such as whole grains, berries, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Choose unprocessed foods. These foods are low-glycaemic and will keep you feeling full for longer.


In love, Jenny

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