Saturday, 30 May 2015
It's not all about the kilojoules!
I love cooking. And I love nutrition. So naturally I tend to adapt the recipes I cook to make them more nutritious. But let me let you in on a little secret: it's not all about the kilojoules! Whilst many of my typical adaptations (e.g. adding more veg) tend to reduce the overall kilojoule (or calorie) content of the meal, this is more of a by-product than the aim.
I think there has been a shift in the nutrition world recently toward adding more healthy fats, protein and fibre into 'healthy' meals, rather than taking things away (like carbs or fat). And this is often something I focused on when I worked in private practice- telling people what they could eat more of, not what they should eat less of. Because when you add those good things in there's less room for the other stuff (like stodgy carbs, fried meats and salty sauces).
I hope the days of kilojoule (or calorie) counting are long gone, because, while I agree that it's important to have an understanding of how some foods provide you with more energy than others on a basic level, I think it can often turn into an obsession which completely misses the point. The point being that food is there to provide nourishment, to fuel your body but also provide satisfaction and enjoyment.
I know I certainly wouldn't enjoy a low-cal meal such as plain lettuce and grilled chicken! I'd need to add more veg for flavour, marinate the chicken or rub it with garlic or spices, add a grain like brown rice or quinoa and dress it with an extra virgin olive oil based dressing and maybe some avocado or roasted nuts. Yes, it wouldn't exactly be low-cal anymore, but it would be tasty, filling and provide me with a large range of vitamins and minerals that comes from having a varied diet. Plus, I don't know about you, but if I restricted myself to plain lettuce and chicken for dinner I'd be raiding the cupboards for something else and it would likely end up blowing that one (unenjoyable) low-cal meal right out anyway!
So, be aware of what kilojoules are, but don't get bogged down in the numbers. Instead, focus on providing your body with the nutrients it needs.