When I first started this blog three years ago, I was deep in the world of weight loss. And for me, that world was all about the numbers. The number on the scale. The number on the tag in my jeans. The number on the timer on the treadmill. The number of calories in my food tracker. Numbers ruled my world. And that kind of rigidity worked for me. It was exactly what I needed at that time. Keeping track of my calories in and calories out, without a doubt, was the winning method for how I managed to get my health on track. After years of neglecting my body, I needed to swoop back and overcompensate by being strict with my new healthy lifestyle.
I feel like so many of my issues pre-weight loss were due to sheer ignorance, and calorie counting helped remedy that. I really had no idea that getting the McChicken wasn’t any healthier than getting a double quarter pounder with cheese. Or, at the very least, if I did know it, I had constructed a very secure mental firewall to protect me from being conscious of it—especially when I was sitting in the drive-thru. Counting calories made it black and white. Even the strongest firewall couldn’t protect from the facts when they were right in front of me. I am so thankful that I spent the time counting calories and learning about food and my body.
Then, a few years ago, I felt my philosophy start to shift. Maybe it was because I started to reach a more “normal” weight. Maybe it was because I was just sick of the food scale. Maybe it was when I started to explore whole foods more. But whatever the motivation, I found my interest in the nutrition facts waning. After years of keeping track and monitoring every gram of everything, I had built up a foundation of knowledge that allowed me to begin to trust myself again. Without much effort, my eating habits began to moderate. No longer did I need to track every morsel of every food that went into my mouth. But I also no longer felt the need to binge on Chewy Chips Ahoy because no one was “watching”. It wasn’t overnight, but I’d found the mythical land of balance.
Now-a-days, I couldn’t tell you the last time I looked at a nutrition label on a package.
It’s interesting, because a lot of folks find calorie counting restrictive, but I think for me, calorie counting ended up opening my eyes to a whole new world of food education. I started asking myself what’s in this thing that I’m eating? and, at first, I meant numerical. How many calories are in this? How much protein is this? But that question keeps evolving. I still ask myself that question, but it’s a lot more about the ingredients now. Where did this come from? What is this made out of? I’m now so much more interested in what is listed in the ingredients section than how many calories there are.
Honestly, that’s one of the biggest reasons I no longer consult nutrition facts—I feel like the nutrition information of any one food or recipe is only part of the story. And if you aren’t careful, can blind you from the rest of the story.
So where is this going? Well, after much debate, I’ve decided to no longer include nutrition information on my recipes on this blog.
I’ve gone back and forth about this for years, but in recent months, I think you’ve probably noticed that my cooking has been much more focused on the quality of food than the calories in it. Instead of trying to figure out a way to shave a couple hundred calories off, I’ve been more focused using fresh, healthy ingredients—regardless of their calories. It has nothing to do with being anti-calorie counters (after all, like I said, it definitely has its place and it worked for me in the past). It’s more about the evolution of my personal relationship with food. Heck, this whole blog is a scrapbook of my evolution! This is just one more aspect of that.
I’ve been putting the basic nutrition info at the bottom of most of my recipes for years now, and while I get why other people like it and use that information, it’s been an internal struggle for me because that information no longer fits within how I personally eat. Including those facts on every recipe is in direct opposition to how I actually live my daily life. It isn’t honest anymore, and I really, really want to stay honest with you.
The honest truth is: my diet is trending toward foods like whole fat milk and butter and local bacon and freshly baked whole grain breads (and, well, lots of veggies and fruits). The virtues of those things are not told in the nutrition facts label. In fact, if you looked at calories, fat, carbs and protein alone, you might think those things are unhealthy (in some online calorie counters, you get letter grades for the “quality” of food and the things I eat daily consistently get Ds and Fs). I don’t believe they’re unhealthy. But the numbers would make you think differently.
Defining what “healthy” means is different to every person. For some people, it means it has no meat. For others, it means it’s low in carbs. For others still, it means it’s low-calorie. To me, a healthy recipe means real, fresh, whole ingredients that come together to make a dish that is delicious and fuels your body. And that’s what I try to post here (well, most of the time, at least).
Cutting away nutrition facts wasn’t an easy line to draw. Because of where I started with my healthy lifestyle, I totally understand that sometimes, in some situations, for some folks, counting calories is the way to go. And I understand that having that information right at the bottom of a recipe makes that easier. And I understand that for some people keeping track of their calories, eating butter and whole milk and bacon probably doesn’t interest them, and maybe they’ll remove me from their reader, but I have to stick with what I know. And I know that I can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right every time I pop the nutrition label into my recipes.
The truth is, I love food. I love the way food tastes. I love the way it looks. I love the way it smells. I love the way it brings my family together. I love the way to identifies cultures. I love the way it makes me feel. But I don’t love breaking food down into a series of numbers on a label. The story of my food feels like it deserves so much more than just that. I hope you’re cool with that.
I’ve actually tried to remove nutrition facts (albeit, in a more quiet fashion) a few times previously, and have gotten some push back, so I figured this time around, I’d explain my reasoning. I hope it makes some sense. Feel free to ask me any questions (or tell me you think I’m off my rocker). Like I said, I want to stay honest with you guys. Explaining my decision openly also gives me the opportunity to share with you a few of the tools that I like to get nutrition info. Going forward, if you want nutrition info for my recipes, I recommend using one of these guys:
- Quickest and easiest—Laveem Parser—No account needed. You just copy a recipe in, and it automagically spits out the nutrition for your recipe. It isn’t the most accurate of tools but for a quick estimate, it can’t be beat.
- Most accurate—SparkRecipes Recipe Calculator—SparkRecipes is the king of accuracy. Nearly any ingredient you could ever want is listed in their database. You do have to enter each ingredient individual, which is a bit of a pain, but do it once, and it’s always there. Plus, you have the ability to link the recipes directly into your SparkPeople nutrition tracker.
Phew. I feel better. Thanks for reading, my friends. <3