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Calorie counter strike
Satiety, calories and recommended dietary guidelines.
Have you eaten? Are you still hungry? Feeling satiated is often not about hitting the right calories per day, but about eating the right kinds of nutrient-dense foods.
The term calorie is derived from the Latin word, calor ‘heat’ and was originally a term used as early as the 1820s to explain a unit of heat. When have we been calorie conscious? 1908 apparently, but it was a Californian physician and newspaper columnist Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters who popularised dieting using the concept, “don’t eat food, eat calories”. Watching what she ate and capping it to 1200 calories per day, her weight loss resulted in one of the first books on dieting titled, ‘Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories’ (1918)1. Shortly after, Dr. Peters was posted to the Balkans and witnessed life there as an American Red Crosser in WW1. She returned to the US three years later and was so surprised that her book had been selling so well that it became a hit.
Dr. Chris Barclay, a GP and author of ‘Beating Diabetes the Low-Carb way’ (2020) shared that in the last 20 years in the UK, the number of people with Type-2 Diabetes had risen from 1.4 to almost 5 million2. Dr. Peters’ successful diet, he theorises, may not have been about the calories after all, but about the fact that her meal plans were low in carbohydrates. She ate plenty of salad, vegetables (mostly raw), fruit, meat and fish, the occasional piece of bread and a few pretzels. There was no pasta, pizza, cake, biscuits or rice, no fruit juices, nor smoothies. Is this an example perhaps of mistaken assumptions and incomplete knowledge, he queries.
Swing back to kitchens of today, a promotion in a Hello Fresh meal kit website promises this, “Our carb smart recipes lower the amount of carbohydrates per serving by using wholesome ingredients like cauliflower, zucchini and avocado in place of high carb foods like rice and bread. And our calorie smart recipes keep each serving under 650 calories while packing in lots of nutrients so you feel super satisfied after every meal”.
You may wonder then if the hashtag #lowcarb is trending… Absolutely! Instagram itself has 27.9million posts with the ‘reducing’ hashtags #lowcarb as compared to 7.1m #diabetes, 75.9m #diet, 82.2m #weightloss yet it can’t compare with the ‘eating’ 284m #foodporn, 122m #vegan.
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