Are empty calories worth it?

Hello all, I hope you're all having a good week. I've just finished my porridge :-)

Now I'm convinced about getting the right number of calories in, I'm having a bit of a panic about *which* calories. I've got a great pattern of a breakfast that sees me through however late lunch may be; a good, filling low-cal lunch I enjoy; and enough calories to let me mostly eat whatever the family's having for tea. If we eat healthfully, I often end up with 200 calories at the end of the day.

I've been perfectly contented just eating a handful of almonds (7c each) to make up to my chosen 1540/day, but Appreciative Daughter wanted to treat me and bought me a bar of chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. I've never been a big chocolate person, and to be honest I am really very all-or-nothing - I (presently) eat all and only foods that are good for me, that I can imagine all going in nourishing and loving my insides and making me well, or else I (historically) ditch the whole effort and invite all the baddies along for the party of destruction that's inevitably wrecking my body.

First: I know I'm over-reacting. My brain went in the bin with the wrapper. I divided the 600-calorie bar into four, got distracted and decided that 1/4 was 37 calories. I thought I was within my limit for the day, so I ate a quarter. Then re-did the maths and realised it was a whole 150. I was over my quota for the first time in this whole endeavour.

I mostly dealt with the disappointment, budgeted for the full 150c of chocolate the next night, and tried to enjoy it as a rational person making her own decisions.

But the question for you all is, is it worth all this?

- A very small distant voice is telling me it's okay as long as it's occasional, because 99% of what I eat is fighting for my health, and winning.

- Another voice is telling me the odd so-called treat is just lost opportunities to nourish my body, so I should mourn the lapse of good judgement.

- The parent voice in me is telling them both to shut up, saying that this kind of self-deprecating debate is exactly what wore me down before, and if it's going to come back over just a piece of chocolate, then I should just avoid empty calories altogether, forever. That doesn't sound quite balanced either.

The only thing I do know is that I have found so much help in real information, not what these bloomin' voices are telling me to believe.

So I'm turning to you lot to be the voices of reason and experience. For you, and also for sort of 'official advice,' is it actually okay to budget for rubbish food, amongst a really healthy diet?

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14 Replies

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  • We all need to have a little of what we like - just count it in your calorie intake for that day and enjoy it :)

    There is nothing to feel guilty about :)

    If you were eating the chocolate every day and not counting it in your calorie range then that would be a different thing

    So enjoy :)

  • Hi traisee, I think you're experiencing a lot of the voices that we all have to deal with and I guess the answer is in whether you can separate head from heart and what your own personal priorities are.

    There will always be at least two sides to any 'argument' and we'll always choose the side that we agree with most and feel comfortable living with. There is no right, or wrong answer for all of us, just one that's right for us, as individuals.

    For me, personally, I have cut sugar and sugar substitutes from my diet. I believe them to be addictive, have no nutritional value and to be intrinsically bad for me, but understand that others feel differently about it. Some include sweet treats in their calorie allowance regularly, others allow them occasionally and others try to change their treats, so will enjoy a couple of squares of high cocoa chocolate, or an artificially sweetened dessert, or one sweetened with dried fruit. You have to read all the information that you can find on the subject and decide on a course of action that suits you.

    Once you've made your decision, you then have to give yourself the necessary permission and stop punishing yourself! Make food your friend, not your enemy, as a very wise member of this forum always reminds us :)

    Wishing you all the best! :)

  • Thanks moreless . You're right, there are two sides to every argument, and when I know that what's right for me could be different to what everyone else says ('eat chocolate'), but I also know that I often punish myself by not joining in what everyone else gets out of life, it leaves me wrestling with the stupid conundrum rather than actually getting on with it! So thanks for reminding me that we can live without sugar. I haven't realised how sugar-free I am until I stopped to think about it - I may not have fully got my act together until recently, but I stopped sugar substitutes AND fizzy drinks way back in 1999. I have (several times) cut cakes and puddings, biscuits mostly went a couple of years ago, and now I'm that bit more enlightened about what's in the little foods, I must be nearly there with you - I quit jam and golden syrup on porridge the first morning I had to count their calories!

    Yes it's best to see food as a friend, and one that wants me to be well. But there are the other friends who want me to enjoy life alongside them - like eating the birthday cake I bake for a child. It's frustrating that I feel like I 'have' to indulge, in order to join in the celebration (in a small, counted slice) when everything in me is ready to decline. What do you do?

    Thanks for the reminder, especially from cracker10 0 and that I don't have to pretend to enjoy it, if I don't really want it, but I can if I do.

  • I say no thank you, politely, but if I'm pushed and made to feel uncomfortable about my choice, then I return the favour, by going into great detail about the negative effects that sugar has on the body :)

  • Am loving this conversation as I started this battle about 30yrs ago!! I've found that a polite "can I have some later" (later never coming) works really well to get me throigh that "battle if the wills" moment!! Mine started when I discovered I was wheat & dairy intolerant & an overbearing relative whom everyone else obeyed!!

    The gift of chocolate from your daughter however has to be enjoyed to the full!!

    I've also joined the "no refined sugar" journey & it's so interesting that even white potatoes, pasta, bread, crisps etc all convert to sugar when digested.

    Having said this all; I drank 2 cans of thatchers cider last night!! (counted calories) Not perfect at all ...

  • Yes, I think it is. I completely second what cracker10 said. A bit of balance is a good thing. I also have a feeling (based on reading others posts on here who have been doing this much longer than me!) that our tastes change and we don't crave specific foods in the same way.

  • I bet you're right. I think I've been here two months now and I've made small changes that now seem completely normal. Congratulations on your 1 stone. I was on 13lb last week so I'm hoping on Monday I get a badge to match yours!

  • I treat my allotted calories the same way I treat money, some things are worth every calorie and some things just aren't. But like you, I also focus very much on optimal health. Nothing's tastes as good as healthy feels 😊

  • That's a great attitude Anna61 - and it fits with the 'celebrations' challenge, because we budget our money to go out for birthdays etc, and choose to spend it differently than usual. The same can apply to food. That's really useful!

  • Exactly! I find, if I 'ban' something I just want it more. I know my body feels happier avoiding carbs and sweet stuff but I love them 😕 But it's about balance and long term sustainability

    Good luck on your journey traisee 😊

  • I think it depends as well what you as an individual consider rubbish food and make your own decision about where you draw the line. My downfall in the past has been eating what feels like to me to be rubbish at work, people bring in all manner of stuff and I would eat it either just because it was there, because the day was stressful, or because I was caught working late and hungry. Now I have my own list of things I will occasionally have eg if someone brings in a good home made cake that's just cake/fruit/ nuts ( no icing etc cos I don't like it) or a piece of really good shortbread. Those things I consider worth the calories very occasionally as I really enjoy them. What I won't do any more is waste calories on things like biscuits out of a packet or other stuff that I don't enjoy that much as I'd rather save the calories for food at meals that is both healthy and tasty. I wouldn't consider a small piece of good quality chocolate rubbish as it will just be broken down in your body into fats/carbs/protein there's no nasty additives or trans fats so in a small amount it won't harm you, but if chocolates not your thing you might choose to use those calories on something you enjoy more and give the choc to someone else!

    I think your first voice is the one giving you the most common sense advice! I've seen someone say on here (sorry I can't remember who so can't give the credit where due!) " you don't need to eat everything you might enjoy , but you should enjoy everything you choose to eat"

    Edited to add: also depends if your the sort of person who finds avoiding things makes you want them more and allowing a little helps you stick to your plan overall, or if you're someone who finds a little sweet stuff sets off a sugar binge and it's less stressful to just avoid it altogether. It's very individual but discussing it on here will help you figure out which works best for you. Good luck 😀

  • " you don't need to eat everything you might enjoy , but you should enjoy everything you choose to eat"

    Wise words 😊

  • Yes I liked them! I hope whoever said that will recognise it and claim the credit!

  • Reading this through it's been really interesting and I think throws up some interesting points about being clear about knowing yourself: what your triggers are, danger points, temptations etc and also what you value. As an example, I have been making myself soup for lunch for years. I'd make it on a Sunday, portion it up and take a portion into work each day. Almost invariably someone would comment on it looking/smelling nice and then say "I don't have time to do that." I would equally as invariably feel bad! I live on my own and don't have any children and yes, my time isn't dictated by anyone else - it doesn't mean I'm not busy but I chose to make my own soup (it generally took about 15 minutes!) and I valued that use of my time. I hope that makes sense and not like I think everyone should make their own soup! I just think it's important to decide what you value and then live within that.

    Also, moreless thank you for being so understanding and accepting of the different ways of doing things and never making me feel bad for being someone who does plan in a sweet treat. :-)

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