Our government is now in the health business. Well I suppose with the FDA, Medicare and hospital regulations they have been in the health business for a long time. With the new health care insurance laws they are even deeper into the business of health.
I am an advocate, a fan, a supporter of good health. I think when we lose our health to illness or disease we have lost something very valuable. I am also however, a lover of freedom of choice. It is our choices that define who we are.
I started thinking about choices, health, and our government when reading news articles about the new requirements for school lunches. The government is cracking down on what can be offered as a healthy school lunch. They have taken soda out of the school vending machines and are adding fresh fruit and veggies as a requirement to receive the school lunch. I believe the attempted goal is to combat obesity by serving our children nutritious food while monitoring calories consumed.
When I went to school I usually brought my lunch from home carried it to school in a brown bag and bought a carton of milk or did the whole lunch box thermos routine. The fun began when we all sat down to eat. Maybe today your Ding Dong doesn’t sound so appealing so you trade with a neighbor for something they weren’t too thrilled about. Isn’t the school lunch room the first place you learned to barter?
School lunch mandates don’t affect all of us but the new requirements for restaurants and fast food franchises to post how many calories are in any given menu item will most likely affect everyone. You have probably seen menu items at your favorite restaurants that sport a low calorie designation or a heart healthy symbol. Again this is an attempt by our government to educate the public on the number of calories they are consuming to fight obesity.
What is a calorie?
According to The American Heritage Science Dictionary
Calorie A unit of heat equal to the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1,000 grams of water by one degree Celsius. This unit is used as a measure of the energy released by food as it is digested by the human body.
Your body requires calories or energy in order to maintain function. You need calories and energy just to breathe but also to walk, talk, etc. So calories are necessary. Excess calories get stored as fat. If your body experiences a time of little food your body would go to your fat stores and turn that fat into the energy your cells need to keep you functioning. This is a protection mechanism hardwired into how human bodies behave.
If we continue to consume more calories than we require we end up with a weight problem. There are many health issues that are caused by being overweight and obese; Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Stroke, type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, Breast Cancer, Gallstones, Gall Bladder Cancer and Infertility.
If the government is going to provide you with the information on the number of calories there are in the foods you consume, what are you going to do with that information?
Do you know the right number of calories you require? How many calories should you be consuming?
You need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the number of calories you should consume each day to maintain your weight. If you are in your ideal weight range and have a healthy Body Mass Index number all you need to find out is the number of calories you need daily to not gain weight. Try this health calculator:
If you need to lose some weight then you need to know the number of calories you should consume in order to lose weight in a safe manner. Try this health calculator for that:
If you have no idea if you are in a healthy weight range, try this health calculator:
I love choices. I was so pleased to learn that a Big Mac only contains 550 calories. I don”t eat a lot of fast food but every now and then I get a craving for a Big Mac that is hard to resist. 550 calories for a sandwich seems like a lot, especially when I consider the amount of calories that I should consume in a day. With the knowledge of knowing the actual number of calories I should consume, I can occasionally give in to my Big Mac attack and cut back somewhere else. Or if my husband takes me out to our favorite restaurant where the dessert is divine, I just might order a lower calorie entre and save some calories for that dessert. I love being able to choose and I think I am going to like the calorie postings at my favorite restaurants.
Good nutrition, providing your body with all the different vitamins and minerals it requires is important too. You don’t want to substitute sugar calories (like cake or donuts) for healthy calories like fruits and veggies that provide your body with the nutrients it desires to operate at peak level. But counting calories can help you not overeat adding to unhealthy fat retention.